Maine CDC has noted a sharp increase in the number of acute hepatitis B cases reported so far in 2016. There were 15 confirmed cases of acute hepatitis B cases confirmed in Maine between January 1 and May 16, a rate of 1.1 cases per 100,000 persons. There were no cases of acute hepatitis B during the same time period in 2015. Maine CDC urges people who are at risk to be vaccinated for hepatitis B, and practice preventative measures to decrease risk of transmission.
The primary risk factor for new cases of acute hepatitis B in Maine in 2016 is injection drug use. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is 100 times more infectious than HIV and 10 times more infectious than hepatitis C virus. In addition, HBV can survive on open air surfaces for up to seven days and in sealed containers for up to three months. If individuals are injecting drugs, it is important that they maintain their own injection kit and do not:
- Share injection equipment
- Inject others and then inject self
- Inject on contaminated surfaces
Other persons at risk are:
- Infants born to infected mothers
- Sex partners of infected persons
- Sexually active persons who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship (e.g., more than one sex partner during the previous 6 months)
- Men who have sex with men
- Household contacts of persons with chronic hepatitis B health care and public safety workers at risk for occupational exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids
- Hemodialysis patients
- Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons
- Travelers to countries with intermediate or high prevalence of hepatitis B
- Persons at high risk for hepatitis B should be screened and vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B, if susceptible.
- Patients diagnosed with hepatitis C should be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B.
No cost hepatitis A and B vaccine is available for high risk patients through the Maine CDC Adult Viral Hepatitis Program in 13 counties. Please contact the Viral Hepatitis Coordinator for more information: 207-287-3817.
Health care providers should report all cases of acute hepatitis B to Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821 immediately on recognition or strong suspicion of disease. Cases of chronic hepatitis B (conventional and rapid tests) should be reported within 48 hours of recognition or strong suspicion of disease.
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