More than half of newly reported cases of hepatitis B in the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) are chronic infections, according to new figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
The data show 58 per cent of the almost 27,000 newly reported cases in the EU/EEA in 2017 were classified as chronic infections, continuing an upward trend since 2008.
There was evidence of on-going transmission and continued importation of cases to many European countries. However, incomplete data and varying national surveillance systems and practices prevented more detailed analysis.
The majority of countries consistently reporting experienced a steady decline in newly reported acute hepatitis B infections from 1.1 per 100,000 population in 2008 to 0.6 in 2017.
However, during the same time period, notifications of chronic hepatitis B increased from 6.7 per 100,000 population to 10.2 in 2017, with the highest rates reported among 25-34-year-olds. The ECDC says that, overall, the reported data on chronic hepatitis B seem to mirror the intensity of local testing and screening policies.
Where data were available, transmission from mother to child and in healthcare settings were the most commonly reported routes for chronic hepatitis B infection (41% and 28%, respectively).