Molecular epidemiology of hepatitis B virus infections in Denmark

N. Fisker, C. Pedersen, Marianne Lange, N.T.T. Ngyuen, K.T.T. Ngyen, J. Georgsen, P.B. Christensen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Denmark has a low incidence of acute hepatitis B (HBV) infections but the impact of an increasing number of immigrants with chronic HBV infection on HBV transmission is unknown. Objectives: To characterise individuals with chronic and acute HBV infection in a defined region and to examine the importance of different risk groups for the current HBV transmission. Methods: During 2000-2001 all consecutive HBV infected individuals routinely diagnosed through the regional HBV serology laboratory in the County of Funen were classified according to ethnicity, presumed route of transmission and stage of infection based on clinical data mainly supplied by the requesting physician. HBV DNA was sequenced and subjected to phylogenetic analysis Results: Of 309 identified cases, 91 (29%) were classified as acute infection. HBV DNA sequencing was possible in 54 (59%) of these cases. Phylogenetic analysis showed that HBV isolated from injecting drug users (IDUs) was identical or closely related. Among acute cases acquired in Denmark 89% (74/83) were seen in IDUs (65) or in individuals presumably exposed to IDUs (nine) and phylogenetic analysis corroborated the assumption of IDU related transmission in every case with available sequence data. Among 83 ethnic Danes who acquired their HBV infection in Denmark, no new cases of transmission from immigrants were detected. Conclusion: Injecting drug use was the single most important factor for hepatitis B transmission in Denmark. The current Danish vaccination strategy is unable to protect IDUs from HBV infection and IDUs pose a greater risk of HBV transmission to the general population than immigrants.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
    Pages (from-to)46-52
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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