Rapid risk assessment update: Hepatitis A outbreaks in the EU/EEA mostly affecting men who have sex with men - 1st update, 24 February 2017

Risk assessment

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Hepatitis A outbreaks in the EU/EEA mostly affecting men who have sex with men – first update, 23 February 2017. Stockholm: ECDC; 2017.

​This rapid risk assessment is an update of a previous assessment on the ongoing transmission of hepatitis A virus infection mainly affecting men who have sex with men in EU/EEA countries.

Executive summary

Between February 2016 and February 2017, three clusters involving 287 confirmed cases of hepatitis A (HAV) have been reported across 13 EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. 

Each of the three clusters involve cases across seven to ten EU Member States. As reporting of cases is limited to those attending healthcare facilities and for those cases for which sequencing was performed, the actual numbers are likely to be higher than what has been reported so far.

Most of the notified cases were among men who have sex with men (MSM) who had not been vaccinated against HAV. In addition, nine cases were identified among women. Sexual transmission is considered to be the main transmission mode in the three identified clusters. Further transmission resulting from these clusters may be prevented by vaccination of MSM and post-exposure prophylaxis among identified contacts and household members.

The ECDC guidance for HIV and STI prevention among men who have sex with men encourages Member States to offer and promote vaccination of MSM against hepatitis A. Information on vaccine availability should be included in health promotion programmes targeting MSM, particularly at sex venues.