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Friday 25th May 2018

'Hep B fuelled' by migration

21st November 2007

The Hepatitis B Foundation UK has said that the increase in immigration should force the UK into considering the implementation of vaccinations for children against Hepatitis B.


The charity's report has estimated that the amount of cases of the infection have nearly "doubled in six years". They say this is partly because of the arrival of people infected with the virus.

It warned that there are no current provisions to prevent the estimate of 326,000 from doubling in the future. The charity said the number of estimated cases had increased from 180,000 in 2002.

At present, the UK does not universally vaccinate against the virus, although the World Health Organisation advises that all babies should receive the vaccination.

"We are not in the middle of a major public health problem yet, but we need to start looking ahead before we find ourselves in one," says Professor Graham Foster, a consultant hepatologist who was involved in the report.

Mothers can infect their children with the virus during childbirth. It can also be caught from the bodily fluids of those infected, for example by the sharing of needles.

The acute form of Hepatitis B will kill 5% of people and the chronic type of the virus can cause dangerous liver conditions in half of patients.

A Department of Health spokesperson said the UK had "one of the lowest prevalence rates of the disease in the world" and had in place a "range of measures to prevent and control it".


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