Hepatitis A vaccination of high-risk groups of men who have sex with men (MSM) has been urged following the latest figures from the ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) region.
New figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show that 4,475 outbreak-confirmed hepatitis A cases were reported in 22 EU/EEA countries between 1 June 2016 and 7 September 2018, the majority being male, particularly MSM.
Although the intensity has decreased since the outbreak was first detected two years ago, outbreak strains continue to circulate in the EU/EEA. A total of 19 EU/EAA countries have reported 364 new outbreak-confirmed cases since 23 March, the ECDC figures show.
A key prevention measure, as detailed in the latest ECDC rapid risk assessment, is continuing hepatitis A vaccination of MSM and their close contacts according to national recommendations. Since June 2017, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom have issued new hepatitis A vaccination recommendations.
Vaccination should be promoted and offered to MSM attending 'pride festivals', where there could be increased likelihood of contact with infected individuals, the ECDC suggests.
However, there is currently limited hepatitis A vaccine availability in some EU countries.