Change in hepatitis A virus seroepidemiology in southern Taiwan: a large percentage of the population lack protective antibody

Authors

  • Shih-Min Wang,

    1. Department of Emergency Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan
    2. Institute of Clinical Medicine and Department of Emergency Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, College of Medicine, Tainan, Taiwan
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  • Ching-Chuan Liu,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Pediatrics, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan
    2. Department of Pediatrics, National Cheng Kung University, College of Medicine, Tainan, Taiwan
    • Department of Pediatrics, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, 138 Sheng Li Road, Tainan, Taiwan.
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  • Yi-Shen Huang,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan
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  • Yao-Jong Yang,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan
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  • Huan-Yao Lei

    1. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, National Cheng Kung University, College of Medicine, Tainan, Taiwan
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Abstract

Hepatitis A, the predominant reported etiologic form of viral hepatitis in Taiwan, continues to be a disease primarily of children and young adults. A seroepidemiologic study was performed to assess the seroprevalence of hepatitis A (HAV) antibodies in the southern Taiwan general population in 1998 and is compared with results of a similar study in 1992. A total of 948 subjects (477 male and 471 female) with ages ranging from 0.3 to 63 years were stratified into 14 age-specific groups. The presence of anti-HAV antibodies was detected using a commercially available radioimmunoassay. Fifteen percent of the subjects were positive for anti-HAV antibodies, which is lower than that in 1992 (P < 0.001). Seroprevalences were 14.1% for males and 22.6% for females (P = 0.006). The pattern of anti-HAV seroprevalence was distinguishable from that found in 1992; minimum seroconversion occurred at ages ranging from 1 to 30 years. Prevalence of seropositive subjects decreased markedly for the < 1, 13–15, 16–19, 20–24, 25–29, and 30–39 year age groups in comparing 1998 with 1992. The current study demonstrates a continuing decline in the prevalence of HAV among children, adolescents, and young adults. The findings can be ascribed to the improvement of socioeconomic status and modernization of environmental sanitation. As a consequence of this changing trend of endemicity and the resulting lack hepatitis A antibodies among the general population in Taiwan, the risk of sudden major outbreaks is increased because of increasing international travel and immigration, particularly during and after natural disasters. HAV vaccination will be important for the prevention and control of HAV outbreaks in the community. J. Med. Virol. 64:104–108, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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