Seroprevalence of antibodies and antigens against hepatitis A–E viruses in refugees and asylum seekers in Germany in 2015

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Abstract

Background

Migration because of miscellaneous political crises in countries in the Middle East and Africa is a global challenge for whole Europe from an economic, social, and public health view. There is an urgent need to generate comprehensive, evidence-based data to expedite further screening and vaccination strategies.

Methods

A total of 604 individuals ranging in age from 2 to 68 years who enrolled at a single reception center were tested for the prevalence of serologic markers for hepatitis virus types A, B, C, D, and E (HAV, HBV, HCV, HDV, HEV), respectively.

Results

Anti-HAV antibody prevalence was 91.2 and 70.3% in children younger than 18 years of age. The prevalence of anti-HEV antibodies was 20.1% among the individuals. 3.0% were positive for hepatitis B surface antigen, whereas 15.2% tested positive for anti-hepatitis B core antigen. None of the refugees tested positive for anti-HDV. 14.1% of refugees were vaccinated against hepatitis B and had a protective anti-hepatitis B surface level of at least 10 mIU/ml. Significant differences in vaccination status were found between the regions (Eastern Mediterranean Region with 77/482 (16.0%; 95% confidence interval=12.7–19.3%) versus African Region with 1/55 (1.8%; 95% confidence interval=0–5.0%). The prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies was 1.2% (n=7), with 0.7% HCV RNA positivity; 16.7% of hepatitis B surface antigen-positive individuals were HCV coinfected (n=3).

Conclusion

The prevalence of refugees with previous exposure to hepatitis viruses was higher than that in the general German population, but lower than in other migrant populations in Germany. The vaccination status against hepatitis B was poor.

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