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A hepatitis A epidemic has broken out in Berlin - 100 cases of illness already
In Berlin, more and more people are becoming infected with the hepatitis A virus. According to experts, the notifiable infectious disease has not only broken out in the German capital, but internationally. However, there are ways to protect yourself.
Hepatitis A epidemic in Berlin
A hepatitis A wave in Berlin is currently giving health experts a headache. Since the beginning of the epidemic in November 2016, 100 cases have already been reported in the capital, according to the latest epidemiological weekly report from the State Office for Health and Social Affairs (Lageso). The current outbreak hits "especially men who have sex with men (MSM)", writes the office. The experts point out that vaccination can protect you.
Condoms do not offer secure protection
According to the Lageso, 91 of the 100 people affected are men. 62 of them said they had sex with men. In 16 cases, the status is still being determined.
For comparison: the average of the past five years for the comparison period is 22 diseases. Last week alone, two new cases became known.
The Lageso points out that "condom use does not offer reliable protection against the sexual transmission of hepatitis A viruses."
However, there is a safe vaccination against hepatitis A.
Transmission by smear infection
The virus is transmitted, among other things, by contaminated drinking water and food, as was also shown in a hepatitis A outbreak in the USA by contaminated strawberries in smoothies.
"The transmission takes place fecal-oral through contact or smear infection, either in the context of close contact with people, e.g. in kindergarten or in the same household, or from sexual contacts, especially for men who have sex with men (MSM), ”writes the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
In the beginning, hepatitis usually causes flu-like symptoms
Symptoms of hepatitis can vary depending on the type of virus, but at the beginning there are usually general symptoms such as tiredness, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, mild fever and vomiting.
Other typical signs such as dark urine, light bowel movements and yellow eyes or skin ("jaundice") may appear later.
Vaccination recommended for high-risk groups
The Lageso points out that there is a safe vaccination against hepatitis A that is recommended for MSM according to the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO). Nurses in hospitals and old people's homes should also be vaccinated.
The Berlin Medical Association wrote on its website: “With a single vaccination, the vaccinated people are adequately protected within 2-4 weeks after the vaccination. To ensure long-term protection, a second dose should be administered 6 to 18 months after the first dose. "
In Germany, the approximately 40 euro expensive vaccination for high-risk patients is usually paid for by the health insurance companies.
Club and gay metropolis
According to the experts, the hepatitis A outbreak in Berlin shows epidemiological connections to cases in other German and European cities.
Due to the sharp increase in cases and the international dimension, an “outbreak team” was formed in the capital from representatives of the RKI, the Lageso as well as district health offices and specialist practices for sexually transmitted diseases, reports the “Berliner Morgenpost”.
Since Berlin is a club and gay metropolis, there is an increased risk of locals and tourists becoming infected in clubs. Through intensive surveys of infected people, contact persons and medical practices, the RKI identified places where the transmissions took place.
As the newspaper report states, the Berghain in Friedrichshain and the Kit Kat Club in Mitte are among the institutions concerned. In the latter, an information session on hepatitis A was held in early May. (ad)