Hepatitis A infections in the United States increased by 294% during 2016-2018 compared with 2013-2015, the CDC reported recently.
The increase primarily occurred among people who reported drug use or homelessness and was also related to outbreaks among men who have sex with men and, to a much lesser degree, to contaminated food. The CDC published its findings May 10 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Nine states and Washington, D.C., had an increase of approximately 500%, including Hawaii, Utah, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia. Another 18 states had lower case counts during 2016-2018 than in 2013-2015.
Hepatitis A rates had decreased by approximately 95% during 1996-2011, due to widespread adoption of universal childhood vaccination recommendations. However, during 2016-2018, the CDC received 15,000 reports of hepatitis A infections from U.S. states and territories, indicating a recent increase in transmission.
The authors noted that there is no universal vaccination recommendation for adults in the United States. However, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends vaccination for adults who plan travel to hepatitis A-endemic countries, men who have sex with men, persons who use drugs, patients with chronic liver disease, and persons experiencing homelessness. The researchers recommended adherence to these recommendations to help control increased hepatitis A rates and prevent future outbreaks.