Hepatitis A risk in travelers.J Travel Med. 2009 Jul-Aug; 16(4):233-8.JT
Traveling to highly endemic areas for hepatitis A is increasing while the immunization level in travelers has been shown to be low in the countries studied.
In this population-based study, we have estimated the incidence rate of travel-related hepatitis A during 1997 to 2005 by use of the Swedish notification system of communicable diseases and an ongoing national database on travel patterns. We have also acquired airport-based immunization data from 2007.
During the study period, 636 cases of travel-related hepatitis A were notified. Traveling to East Africa was associated with the highest incidence rate (14.1 cases/100,000 person months), followed by the Middle East (5.8/100,000 person months), and India with neighboring countries (5.6/100,000 person months). Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) travelers represented 83, 91, and 70% of the cases to these three regions. By age-group, the highest incidence was found in children 0 to 14 years (3.1/100,000 travelers) where 88% of the cases were VFR travelers. Incidence rate in unprotected travelers to East Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East was 2, 12, and 18 cases/100,000 person months, respectively. In 2007, 79% of the travelers were immunized against hepatitis A.
We conclude that travelers, and especially children, who are VFR in endemic areas constitute a high-risk group for acquiring hepatitis A infection, while the risk for unprotected tourists to East Asia is low.