THE EPIDEMIOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF HEPATITIS B IN CROATIA: THE RESULTS OF THE PREVENTION
Aim. This study shows epidemiological characteristics and preventive measures implemented for the prevention and control of hepatitis B infections in Croatia.
Method. We analyzed the data from obligatory infectious disease reports and notifications of death due to infectious diseases, data on the hepatitis B infections in Croatia, and data collected by survey of the population.
Results. The average prevalence of the disease is 3.67 per 100,000 annually. All age groups are affected, but still a higher rate of the disease is found in the age groups from 15 – 19 and 20 – 29 years of age. Hepatitis B disease is 1.4 times more likely in men than in women. For the past 18 years, the average rate of mortality was 0.2%. The incidence of HbsAg-positive donors of blood is within the range of 0.65% in 1992 to 0.012% in 2011. The largest part of preventive measures implemented in Croatia against hepatitis B is predicted and required by legislation. The registrations of acute and chronic carriers of the virus are obligatory. High-risk groups have started being vaccinated since 1992. The obligatory vaccination of infants was introduced in the mandatory vaccination program in 2007. Routine testing of blood exclusively from voluntary donors for HbsAg presence is obligatory. The non-governmental organization ’Help’ created for intravenous drug users, along with the ’Harm reduction’ program implemented hepatitis B, C, and HIV/AIDS prevention program in 1995.
Conclusion. In order to gain a better understanding of epidemiological characteristics of hepatitis B in Croatia, the specifics of its dynamics in small communities are required since the research of Croatian public health officials and researchers have shown that hepatitis B is spread in different ways.
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