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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011 Oct 14;60(40):1385-90.

Establishment of a viral hepatitis surveillance system--Pakistan, 2009-2011.


Hepatitis A is thought to infect almost all persons living in Pakistan by age 15 years, and hepatitis E is responsible for sporadic infections and outbreaks. The prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is estimated at 2.5% and the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, estimated at 4.8%, is one of the highest rates in the world. Hepatitis surveillance in Pakistan has been syndromic, failing to confirm infection, distinguish among viruses, or collect information on risk factors. To understand the epidemiology of viral hepatitis in Pakistan more clearly, the Ministry of Health (MOH) asked the Pakistan Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP) to establish a hepatitis sentinel surveillance system in five large public hospitals in four provinces and Islamabad Capital Territory. This report describes the implementation of the viral hepatitis surveillance system in Pakistan and summarizes major findings from June 2010 through March 2011. A total of 712 cases of viral hepatitis were reported; newly reported HCV infection accounted for 53.2% of reported cases, followed by acute hepatitis A (19.8%), acute hepatitis E (12.2%), and newly reported HBV infection (10.8%). A history of health-care--related exposures, particularly receipt of therapeutic injections and infusions, commonly were reported by persons infected with HBV and HCV, and most patients reported drinking unboiled water. These findings point to the need for improved provider and community education about risks associated with unsafe injections, strengthening infection control practices in health facilities, increasing hepatitis B vaccination coverage, and improving access to clean drinking water in Pakistan.

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