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Alan Franciscus
HCV Advocate

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hepatitis B continues to be concern in W.Va.

PARKERSBURG - Mid-Ohio Health Department officials said Hepatitis B continues to be a concern, as statewide, incidence numbers are among the highest in the nation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, from 1999 through 2008, reported rates of acute Hepatitis B in West Virginia increased by more than 150 percent. Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus. It is spread through contact with blood or certain body fluids of an infected person.

 "We have the highest incidence in the country. People don't realize. It's a tough bug, it can stay alive on surfaces for days. People normally think that primarily intravenous drug users are the ones who are at risk, but because the incidence rate is so high, I worry that everyone is potentially at risk without even knowing it. If you have a cut on your finger and you touch a surface that's infected, you're infected," said Dick Wittberg, MOVHD executive direct.

 Read more....

1 comment:

  1. This report can be misleading. At first glance one might think West Virginia had the most hepatitis B cases in the country.

    Instead, this simply pertains to new (acute) hepatitis B cases that doctors have reported to their state health agency.

    In 2005, West Virginia had 69 new reported cases of hepatitis B, in 2009 that number grew to 84. Oklahoma follows West Virginia with the second highest rate of new hepatitis cases.
    Do West Virginia or Oklahoma have the highest number of chronic hepatitis B cases in the country? No, that would be NY or California. West Virginia simply has the highest number of new cases (reportedly linked primarily to injection drug use) that caused sufficient symptoms so a doctor tested for HBV and reported the infection to the state.

    The bad news is the report underscores the need for immunization and education in these at-risk populations. The good news is the doctors are doing their job and screening for hepatitis B and reporting it, so the state will do more to immunize residents.

    Also to clarify, West Virginia had the highest increase in new, reported acute HBV cases. Mercer County in West Virginia was the county with the highest number of new cases.

    --Christine Kukka, HBV Advocate editor