Seasonal fluctuations in hepatitis A have been observed in the Netherlands related to Turkish and Moroccan children after visiting their home countries. This study determined the prevalence and associated factors of hepatitis A virus (HAV) antibodies in Turkish and Moroccan children in Rotterdam. A random sample was taken of children in Rotterdam, aged 5-16 years, of Turkish and Moroccan origin, together with a random sample of native Dutch children aged 5-7 and 14-16 years. Blood was collected by finger prick on filter paper. IgG and IgM anti-HAV was detected by an enzyme-linked immunoassay (EIA). The 319 Turkish, 329 Moroccan, and 248 native Dutch children participated in the study. In Turkish children, IgG anti-HAV increased from 2.2% to 22.2% over the age groups. In Moroccan children, IgG anti-HAV increased from 10.2% to 57.7%. In native Dutch children, 0.8% had IgG anti-HAV in the youngest and 3.1% in the oldest age group. The percentage IgG-positive also having IgM anti-HAV was 21% in Turkish, and 41% in Moroccan children. No IgG-positive native Dutch children had IgM anti-HAV. The prevalence of IgG anti-HAV was associated with increased age, being Moroccan, longer stay in the country of origin before migrating to the Netherlands, and known contact to HAV. The majority of Turkish and Moroccan children aged 4-16 years in Rotterdam are not protected against HAV, but do have a high risk of becoming infected while visiting their native country. Active vaccination against HAV of these children is indicated, with as primary aim their own protection. Prevention of HAV-transmission in the general community should be seen as a secondary benefit. In addition, possible Dutch contacts of nonvaccinated Turkish and Moroccan children, such as day care workers and teachers, should also be vaccinated against HAV.

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Journal of Medical Virology
Department of Virology

Richardus, J.H, Vos, D, Veldhuijzen, I.K, & Groen, J.M. (2004). Seroprevalence of Hepatitis A Virus Antibodies in Turkish and Moroccan Children in Rotterdam. Journal of Medical Virology, 72(2), 197–202. doi:10.1002/jmv.10576