Hepatitis A Prevalent in U.S.

ATLANTA - Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are reporting that hepatitis A may actually infect 10 times more Americans than previously thought.

The discovery comes after researchers developed a mathematical model to estimate underreporting and other variables. They determined that more than 271,000 Americans were infected with the virus annually from 1980 to 1999. Additional research suggests that 47 million Americans have antibodies present suggesting they have once been exposed to the disease.

Hepatitis A, spread through contaminated food and water, does not cause a long-lasting illness like hepatitis B and C. The researchers noted that the majority of new infections were discovered in children, age 10 and younger.

Because symptoms are flu-like in nature, many people do not realize they have become sick. The virus also can cause jaundice and diarrhea.

Information from www.reuters.com