Seroprevalence and susceptibility to hepatitis A in the European Union and European Economic Area: a systematic review

ECDC HAV Expert Panel, ECDC HAV Expert Panel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Most of the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) is considered a region of very low hepatitis A virus (HAV) endemicity; however, geographical differences exist. We did a systematic review with the aim of describing seroprevalence and susceptibility in the general population or special groups in the EU and EEA. We searched databases and public health national institutes websites for HAV seroprevalence records published between Jan 1, 1975, and June 30, 2014, with no language restrictions. An updated search was done on Aug 10, 2016. We defined seroprevalence profiles (very low, low, and intermediate) as the proportion of the population with age-specific anti-HAV antibodies at age 15 and 30 years, and susceptibility profiles (low, moderate, high, and very high) as the proportion of susceptible individuals at age 30 and 50 years. We included 228 studies from 28 of 31 EU and EEA countries. For the period 2000–14, 24 countries had a very low seroprevalence profile, compared with five in 1975–89. The susceptibility among adults ranged between low and very high and had a geographical gradient, with three countries in the low susceptibility category. Since 1975, EU and EEA countries have shown decreasing seropositivity; however, considerable regional variability exists. The main limitations of this study are that the studies retrieved for analysis might not be representative of all EU and EEA publications about HAV and might have poor national representativeness. A large proportion of EU and EEA residents are now susceptible to HAV infection. Our Review supports the need to reconsider specific prevention and control measures, to further decrease HAV circulation while providing protection against the infection in the EU and EEA, and could be used to inform susceptible travellers visiting EU and EEA countries with different HAV endemicity levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e306-e319
JournalThe Lancet Infectious Diseases
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


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