The role of child care in a community-wide outbreak of hepatitis A.Pediatrics. 2001 Nov; 108(5):E78.Ped
To evaluate the role of child care centers in a community-wide hepatitis A epidemic.
We analyzed surveillance data during an epidemic in Maricopa County, Arizona, from January to October 1997 and conducted a case-control study using a sample of cases reported from June to November. Cases were physician-diagnosed and laboratory confirmed; control subjects were frequency matched by age and neighborhood. Information regarding hepatitis A risk factors, including child care-related exposures, was collected. Characteristics of all licensed child care centers in the county were obtained through review of computerized lists from the Arizona Office of Child Day Care Licensing. Surveillance data were linked to the child care list to determine which centers had reported hepatitis A cases. We conducted univariate and multivariate conditional logistic analyses and calculated population attributable risks (PAR).
In total, 1242 cases (50/100 000 population) were reported. The highest rates occurred among people aged 0 to 4 (76/100 000), 5 to 14 (95/100 000), and 15 to 29 (79/100 000) years. The most frequently reported risk factor was contact with a hepatitis A patient (45%). However, nearly 80% of these contacts were with individuals who attended or worked in a child care center. Overall, child care center-related contact could have been the source of infection for 34% of case-patients. In the case-control study, case-patients (n = 116) and control subjects (n = 116) did not differ with respect to demographic characteristics. A total of 51% of case-patients compared with 18% of control subjects reported attending or working in a child care setting (direct contact; adjusted odds ratio [OR]: 6.0; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.1-23.0) or being a household contact of such a person (indirect contact; OR: 3.0; 95% CI: 1.3-8.0). In age-stratified analyses, the association between hepatitis A and direct or indirect contact with child care settings was strongest for children <6 years old and adults aged 18 to 34 years. Household contact with a person with hepatitis A also was associated with hepatitis A (OR: 9.2; 95% CI: 2.6-58.2). The presence of a child <5 years old in the household was not associated with hepatitis A. The estimated PAR for direct child care contact was 23% (95% CI: 16-34), for indirect child care contact was 21% (95% CI: 13-35), and for any child care contact was 40% (95% CI: 30-53). Information on 1243 licensed child care centers was obtained, with capacity ranging from 5 to 479 slots (mean: 87). Thirty-four (2.7%) centers reported hepatitis A cases. Centers that had a mean capacity of >50 children were more than twice as likely to have had a reported case of hepatitis A (OR: 2.6; 95% CI: 1.1-6.7). Among the 747 centers that accepted >50 children, having infant (OR: 3.7; 95% CI: 1.6-8.3), toddler (OR: 6.3; 95% CI: 2.2-20.0), or full-day service (OR; undefined; 95% CI: 1.7- ~) was associated with having a reported case of hepatitis A.
In Maricopa County, people associated with child care settings are at increased risk of hepatitis A, and child care attendees may be an appropriate target group for hepatitis A vaccination. Considering the estimated proportion of children who attended child care and were old enough to receive hepatitis A vaccine (>/=2 years of age) and the calculated PAR, approximately 40% of cases might have been prevented if child care center attendees and staff had been vaccinated. However, epidemiologic studies indicate that the proportion of cases that are attributable to child care center exposure varies considerably among counties, suggesting that this exposure may be associated with an increased risk of hepatitis A in some communities but not in others. To prevent and control hepatitis A epidemics in communities, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics have adopted a long-term strategy of routine vaccination of children who live in areas with consistently elevated hepatitis A rates. After demonstrating cost-effectiveness, a rule was implemented in January 1999 to require hepatitis A vaccination of all children who are aged 2 to 5 years and enrolled in a licensed child care facility in Maricopa County. Other communities with similar epidemiologic features might consider routine vaccination of child care center attendees as a long-term hepatitis A prevention strategy. Consistent with current recommendations, in communities with persistently elevated hepatitis A rates where child care center attendance does not play an important role in hepatitis A virus transmission in the community, child care centers may nonetheless provide a convenient access point for delivering hepatitis A as well as other routine childhood vaccinations.