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Changing prevalence, clinical features, and outcome of acute hepatitis in Spain (1982–2003)


Dr JA del Olmo, Servicio de Hepatología, Hospital Clínico Universitario, Avda. Blasco Ibáñez 17, E-46010 Valencia, Spain. Email:


Background:  Diagnostic and preventive measures have contributed to a change in the epidemiology of acute hepatitis. The purpose of the present paper was to assess the changing prevalence of acute hepatitis from 1982 to 2003.

Methods:  Trends in the epidemiology, clinical findings, and outcome of acute viral hepatitis from 1982 to 2003 were examined. A total of 548 episodes of acute hepatitis diagnosed between 1982 and 2003, the clinical course of which was monitored up to the year 2003, were included. Annual changes as well as for the intervals 1982–1992 and 1993–2003 were compared.

Results:  Severe infections occurred in 1.3% of cases, with a mortality of 0.6%, with progression into chronicity in 25.1%. The annual incidences of acute hepatitis and the comparative intervals 1982–1992 and 1993–2003 showed a decline of parenterally –B, delta and C virus- transmitted infections, unchanged number of cases of acute hepatitis A, an increase in the number of cases of drug-induced hepatitis, increase in median ages, and a decrease in the proportion of hepatitis in injecting drug users. Ages of patients with hepatitis A tended to increase.

Conclusions:  A decline of parenterally transmitted acute hepatitis was documented throughout a 22-year period, while the number of cases of hepatitis A was unchanged and that of drug-induced hepatitis increased. Evaluation of the current targeted hepatitis A vaccination approach and adequate pharmacovigilance measures are required in the near future.