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In 2004, an outbreak of hepatitis A occurred in European tourists returning from Egypt. The reported hepatitis A attack rates varied considerably between tourists from different European countries. To determine the reason for this divergence in attack rates, a survey was undertaken with the following objectives: (a) documentation of national hepatitis A prevention policies for people travelling to Egypt and (b) documentation of hepatitis A reporting practices in these countries. A questionnaire was compiled and distributed to 13 European countries. All eight of the countries that responded had produced guidelines for the prevention of travel-associated hepatitis A. Between 2001-2003, 40% (range 4-51) of hepatitis A cases reported annually were associated with travel abroad. This occurred despite the fact that all countries recommended active vaccination with hepatitis A vaccine for people travelling to Egypt for holidays. There was no standard case definition for reporting confirmed cases in the countries that reported hepatitis A cases. As it is likely that travel-associated infections will increase as more people take overseas holidays, innovative ways to increase the number of travellers who seek and adhere to appropriate medical advice prior to travel must be explored. In addition, we recommend the use of the European Commission case definition for notification of confirmed cases of hepatitis A.


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