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Acta Médica Costarricense

On-line version ISSN 0001-6002Print version ISSN 0001-6012


TAYLOR, Mayra L. et al. Seroprevalencia de los virus de la Hepatitis A y B en grupos etarios de Costa Rica. Acta méd. costarric [online]. 2001, vol.43, n.4, pp.153-158. ISSN 0001-6002.

Justification and objetives: Due to persistence of acute cases and outbreaks of viral hepatitis A and B in our country and the observation of an important increase of type A infections in the adult population, it was considered necesary to establish the prevalence of these two types of hepatitis in different age groups in our country. Methods: Seroprevalence of viral hepatitis A (HAV) and viral hepatitis B (HBV), was studied in a population which included 873 pre-scholar children < 7 years from a national nutritional survey in 1996; 614 scholar children 9-15 years from a national nutritional survey carried out by the University of Costa Rica during 1996 and 1997, and 996 samples from students and personnel from this same university collected during 1994. These samples were analyzed for total antibodies to HAV (anti-HAV total), HBV surface antigen (HbsAg) and total antibodies against core (anti-HBc total). Results: The percentage of anti-HAV was established to be 6.8%, 13.2% and 71.7% for the pre-scholar children, scholars and adults, respectively, with an increasing prevalence related to age. The presence of antibodies in the "scholar group" was associated with education level of the parents and their socioeconomic status, being higher for parents with a lower education level (24% with incomplete high school versus 7.6% with higher education level) and among parents with-out technical or professional training (16% versus 8.7% in the parents with higher education level). Also, it was a difference between the presence of anti-HAV among students from public schools (19.5%) versus private schools (6.9%). In the prescholar children, which was the only group with geographic statistical significance, the province of Guanacaste showed a 2-3 times higher risk to have HAV antibodies (21%) than in children from other provinces. This is in concordance with data related to low socio-economical status, lack of potable water and poor sanitary conditions. The study shower a prevalence of HBv markers to be 0.5%, 0.2% and 0.2% for HbsAg, and 2.8%, 0.3% and 4.0% for anti-HBc in pre-scholars, scholars and adults, respectively. There was no relationship between the socioeconomic status or age, with these prevalences; but the anti-HBc was found to be higher in men (6.9% in men and 2.3% in women). Conclusions: When comparing the data obtained in earlier decades in Costa Rica for these two types of hepatitis, it was found that hepatitis B continues to have a similar epidemiological pattern during childhood from a high prevalence. This change requires an adequate intervention to avoid epidemic outbreaks and increase in the number of severe cases in the young and adult population.

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