Prague - The outbreak of hepatitis in the Czech Republic is not over yet. Only last week 50 more cases were diagnosed with hepatitis A.
Since the beginning of 2008, 1,383 cases of hepatitis A have been reported with Prague being the worst affected area. It is a tenfold increase compared to previous year.
The infected include young children of primary school and kindergarten age, as reported by the Health Ministry on Monday, November 24.
Although Chief Public Health Officer Michael Vít predicts that the outbreak will not be over before January 2009, the number of registered cases is slightly decreasing at the moment.
The outbreak first started among the intravenous drug-users and homeless people in Prague in the summertime but soon spread to the general public.
Massive demand for vaccination
In September the Prague Municipality launched a massive campaign that targetted those at highest risk. Hundreds of the homeless and drug-addicts were vaccinated then to prevent the disease from spreading within their social group.
The epidemic caused a massive increase in demand for vaccination among the Czech population. "We have never needed so many vaccines as this year," Vít said.
The panic was exploited by tricksters who offered paid vaccination online, under a name of an existing private company in Prague. The page www.antizloutenka.info offered overpriced vaccines that had to be paid in advance.
Weeks in hospital
Initially, a person infected with hepatitis A has flu-like symptoms - fever, fatigue, nausea, and abdominal pain. Some sufferers, particularly children, often show no symptoms at all.
The infected may also experience jaundice, a yellowing of the skin, which reflects in the Czech name of the disease - žloutenka - yellow disease.
Those infected with hepatitis A have to be hospitalized for several weeks or even months. Every year about 10 million people worldwide are infected with the Hepatitis A virus.