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Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Dec 15;170(12):1455-63. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwp375. Epub 2009 Nov 12.

Molecular sequence data of hepatitis B virus and genetic diversity after vaccination.

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RIVM, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


The effect of vaccination programs on transmission of infectious disease is usually assessed by monitoring programs that rely on notifications of symptomatic illness. For monitoring of infectious diseases with a high proportion of asymptomatic cases or a low reporting rate, molecular sequence data combined with modern coalescent-based techniques offer a complementary tool to assess transmission. Here, the authors investigate the added value of using viral sequence data to monitor a vaccination program that was started in 1998 and was targeted against hepatitis B virus in men who have sex with men in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The incidence in this target group, as estimated from the notifications of acute infections with hepatitis B virus, was low; therefore, there was insufficient power to show a significant change in incidence. In contrast, the genetic diversity, as estimated from the viral sequence collected from the target group, revealed a marked decrease after vaccination was introduced. Taken together, the findings suggest that introduction of vaccination coincided with a change in the target group toward behavior with a higher risk of infection. The authors argue that molecular sequence data provide a powerful additional monitoring instrument, next to conventional case registration, for assessing the impact of vaccination.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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