According to the CDC, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported an increase in hepatitis A infection among men who have sex with men in the city this year.
Further, some of these men report traveling to areas in Western Europe where HAV outbreaks are ongoing among MSM.
Between Jan. 1, and Aug. 31, 2017, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) identified 51 patients with HAV linked to the increase in New York City and with a history of sexual contact with MSM.
“Only three patients with HAV infection reported previous receipt of HAV vaccine; this ongoing investigation highlights the importance of HAV vaccination among MSM, and of determining MSM status during HAV investigations,” the CDC wrote in their report.
Of 46 New York City residents recently infected with HAV, 36 MSM and one woman with a history of sexual contact with an MSM resident of a nearby New York county reported no travel to areas of high or intermediate HAV endemicity. Nineteen of the 46 reported domestic travel and eight reported travel to Western European countries.
Epidemiologic or laboratory evidence linked an additional five patients to the HAV increase in New York City: one man from a New York county; three patients from Colorado; and one patient from Oregon.
The patient from Oregon worked as a food handler at a restaurant. After a second food handler at the restaurant became infected with HAV, a public notification was released that recommended postexposure prophylaxis for approximately 1,000 patrons who visited the establishment over a 7-day period in March.
“Since 1996, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended that all MSM receive two doses of HAV vaccine administered at least 6 months apart,” the CDC advised. “In NYC, the incidence of HAV infection for 2013 to 2015 was 6.8 times higher among MSM adults who had not traveled to countries where HAV is endemic than among non-MSM adults. HAV vaccine was added to the routine childhood immunization schedule in 2006, but many susceptible adults might still be unvaccinated. Efforts to promote HAV vaccine in MSM, including targeted messaging campaigns, will help prevent transmission among MSM.” – by Talitha Bennett