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J Infect Dis. 2011 Aug 1;204(3):400-7. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir269.

Hepatitis B outbreak following a mass-casualty incident, Australia.

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Royal Perth Hospital, Australia. claire_italiano@hotmail.com

Abstract

On 16 April 2009, a boat carrying 47 Afghan asylum seekers and 2 Indonesian crew exploded in Australian waters, resulting in mass casualties. Of these casualties, 23 persons who suffered significant burns were transferred to Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia. One patient was subsequently shown to be a hepatitis B virus (HBV) carrier at the time of the explosion. Over the following months, 3 other patients received a diagnosis of acute hepatitis B, and an additional 4 patients showed serological evidence of recent HBV infection, including 1 patient who was transferred to another Australian city. Molecular typing determined that the strains from the HBV carrier and the acute and recent case patients formed a closely related cluster, and the investigation suggested that transmission occurred at or around the time of the boat explosion. This is the first report of confirmed transmission of HBV following a disaster, and it reinforces the importance of postexposure prophylaxis for HBV in mass casualty situations.

PMID:
21742838
DOI:
10.1093/infdis/jir269
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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