Calling it Ã¢â‚¬Å“one of the big public-health success stories of the last 10 years,Ã¢â‚¬Â the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the incidence of acute viral hepatitis is at a 40-year low. The CDC credits an expanded immunization program for the dramatic decline in reported cases of hepatitis A and B.
According to CDC figures, the number of hepatitis A cases has declined 88 percent since 1995, and the number of hepatitis B cases has dropped 79 percent since 1990. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The drops in new cases of hepatitis A and hepatitis B are evidence that our prevention strategies have been successful, particularly the widespread use of vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. Ã¢â‚¬Å“In order for these declines to continue, our prevention efforts must be sustained.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The CDC recommends that children between the age of 12 and 23 months be vaccinated against hepatitis A and that three doses of hepatitis B vaccine be given beginning at birth. They also point out that the decline in hepatitis cases was mostly found among children and that Ã¢â‚¬Å“the number of new infections remains high particularly among unvaccinated adults.Ã¢â‚¬Â In 2005, more than 100,000 new cases of viral hepatitis were reported.