Around 10 million Europeans have Hepatitis B or C, which means cases of the illness are on the rise in Europe, the European Centre for the Prevention of Illness (EDCD) said on Monday. Their statement came the day before World Hepatitis Awareness Day. The majority of people who have the virus are not aware they have it, due to the lack of symptoms. In total, the ECDC, based in Stockholm (Sweden), has registered more than 50,000 new cases of Hepatitis B and C. The virus is mainly passed on through blood (Hep B and C) and biological fluids (Hep B). There is a census on the virus every year, which covers the whole European Economic Area (EU, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein).
Hepatitis A – which is transmitted by food or contaminated water – remerged as a public health threat in Europe in 2014. Cases of Hepatitis B have gone up: there were 3.6 cases per 100,000 people in 2012n but 4.4 in 2013. The rate of Hepatitis C is twice as high, going from 8.1 cases per 100,000 people in 2012 to 9.6 in 2013. If left untreated, Hepatitis B and C can cause untreatable liver infections.
The ECDC also underlined the importance of getting tested to be able to get treatment.
Thanks to vaccinations, chronic Hepatitis B has continued to go down since 2006 – when it was at 1.3 cases per 100,000 people. It was 0.7/100,000 in 2013, the ECDC say.
There is no vaccine against Hepatitis C.
Andy Sanchez (Source: Belga)