Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference: Cross Track Session - Viral Hepatitides
Scott Bowden, Senior Medical Scientist, Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) spoke on hepatitis A in Australia. Hepatitis A is the most common hepatitis worldwide. Scott provided a good summary of the hepatitis A virus structure and worldwide prevalence. He then went on to relate the three largest outbreaks of hepatitis A in Australia, including the most recent involving frozen mixed berries imported from China.
Kathy Jackson, Senior Scientist, also of VIDRL, spoke on the hepatitis delta virus (HDV) in Australia. HDV is the least common form of viral hepatitis but leads to the most severe liver disease. HDV is a "satellite virus" which can only exist in the presence of the hepatitis B virus. There are currently no national testing or treatment guidelines for HDV. VIDRL recommends testing first anti-HDV, and if positive followed by a HDV PCR, and then viral load (if required for treatment monitoring.
Dr David Siebert, Infectious Diseases physician and microbiologist at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane gave an update on the hepatitis E virus in Australia. Hepatitis E is an emerging infectious disease in industrialised countries and is not simply a travel associated infection. Hepatitis E virus should be considered when a patient under immune suppression presents with acute hepatitis. Currently there is no screening of blood products for hepatitis E, making the transmission of hepatitis E through transfusion inevitable in Australia.