Hepatitis E infections rose by almost 20% in England and Wales in 2019

  • Public Health England
  • 10 Mar 2020

  • curated by Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Medical News
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New figures from Public Health England suggest the number of cases of hepatitis E infection in England and Wales rose by almost 20 per cent in 2019.

Based on Office for National Statistics estimates of the population in England and Wales, the figures suggest the incidence of hepatitis E has increased from 1.7 per 100,000 population in 2018 to 2.0 per 100,000 population in 2019.

There were 236 cases in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2019 compared with 264 cases in the Q4 of 2018. Of the 236 cases in Q4 of 2019, 139 (59%) were male (age, 1-87 [median, 54] years) and 95 (41%) were female (age, 11-90 [median, 53] years). The persisting predominance in older men remains unexplained.

The National Leptospirosis Service reported 91 confirmed cases of leptospirosis in England and Wales in 2019, a jump of more than 25 per cent on the 2018 figure of 72 cases.

The number of cases reporting recent travel abroad ranged from 38 per cent to 59 per cent between 2015 and 2019, with the peak occurring in the third quarter of each year. In the Q4 of 2019, 34 per cent of cases reported recent travel abroad, with 77 per cent of these reporting travel to Asia.

The total number of confirmed Lyme disease cases was similar in 2018 (1641 cases) and 2019 (1639 cases); however, the proportion of acute cases was lower in 2019 (55%) compared with 2018 (69%). The number of cases peaked during the summer months, which corresponds to the peak times of exposures to ticks in the UK.