Hepatitis B: what does data on reported cases in England for 2019 reveal?

  • Public Health England
  • 28 Apr 2020

  • curated by Priscilla Lynch
  • UK Medical News
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The number of acute hepatitis B cases reported in England in 2019 remains low and consistent with annual trends for the same time frame, according to the newly published Public Health England (PHE) data report for the year.

Between January and December 2019, 287 cases of acute hepatitis B were reported across England (confirmed, probable and possible).

Where sex was known, males accounted for 64.8 per cent of cases (184/284). The median age of persons with acute hepatitis B virus was 42 (IQR: 30-56) years; 44 (IQR: 31-57) years for males and 37 (IQR: 28-52) years for females.

Of the samples submitted to the Virus Reference Department (VRD) as part of the enhanced surveillance programme, nine (11.0%) were confirmed to be chronic hepatitis B and 65 (79.3%) were confirmed to be acute hepatitis B infection.

A total of 63 confirmed acute cases could be genotyped during January to December 2019. Consistent with trends seen in 2017 and 2018, genotype A was the most commonly reported genotype with 50.8 per cent of cases. Additional sub-genotype analysis of the A viruses indicated 87.5 per cent to be A2.

Overall, reported cases have been declining since 2011 (513 cases). In 2015, there was a slight increase in cases likely caused by the outbreak of acute hepatitis B in men who have sex with men but identify as heterosexual.

Meanwhile, there were a total of 177 laboratory reports of new patients with hepatitis A reported to PHE during the fourth quarter of 2019 (October-December).

This is a 46.3 per cent increase on the reports in the third quarter of 2019 (n=121). Of these, 115 reports of new patients remained after exclusion of patients with samples sent to the VRD that were not confirmed as having had a recent hepatitis A virus infection.