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Acta Med Croatica. 2013 Oct;67(4):273-9.

[Epidemiology of viral hepatitis].

[Article in Croatian]


Understanding the country-specific epidemiology of disease, which may vary greatly among countries, is crucial for identifying the most appropriate preventive and control measures. An overview of the local epidemiology of viral hepatitis in Croatia is given in this paper. The overall prevalence of hepatitis B in Croatia is low (less than 2% HBsAg carriers in the general population). Hepatitis B incidence and prevalence began to decline significantly following the introduction of universal hepatitis B vaccination in 1999. Information on HBsAg seroprevalence is derived from routine testing of certain subpopulations (pregnant women, blood donors) and seroprevalence studies mostly targeted at high-risk populations. Universal childhood vaccination against hepatitis B remains the main preventive measure. We recommend testing for immunity one to two months after the third dose of hepatitis B vaccine for health-care workers. The incidence and prevalence of hepatitis C have also been declining in the general population. The main preventive measures are ensuring safety of blood products, prevention of drug abuse, and harm reduction programs for intravenous drug users. Hepatitis A incidence has declined dramatically since fifty years ago, when thousands of cases were reported annually. In the last five years, an average of twenty cases have been reported per year. The reduction of hepatitis A is a consequence of improved personal and community hygiene and sanitation. Hepatitis D has not been reported in Croatia. The risk of hepatitis D will get to be even smaller as the proportion of population vaccinated against hepatitis B builds up. Hepatitis E is reported only sporadically in Croatia, mostly in persons occupationally in contact with pigs and in travelers to endemic countries. In conclusion, Croatia is a low prevalence country for hepatitides A, B and C. Hepatitis D has not been reported to occur in Croatia and there are only sporadic cases of hepatitis E. Since hepatitis A is a rare disease occurring sporadically, which is a consequence of improved sanitation and hygiene, hepatitides B and C are the main causes of viral hepatitis in Croatia. The introduction of universal mandatory hepatitis B vaccination of schoolchildren in 1999 resulted in a decrease in the incidence of hepatitis B, which is most pronounced in adolescents and young adults, and further decrease in the incidence and prevalence is expected as the pool of susceptible individuals decreases through vaccination. The incidence of hepatitis C is decreasing as well. In spite of a relatively favorable epidemiological situation, hepatitis B and C are still a significant public health burden with an estimated 25,000 persons chronically infected with HBV and about 40,000 persons chronically infected with HCV in Croatia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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