Surveillance for viral hepatitis — United States, 2009
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      The 2009 viral hepatitis surveillance report reflects a novel approach to providing public health partners with a more accurate, comprehensive look into viral hepatitis surveillance and the burden caused by these infections in the United States. A notable departure from past reports, the 2009 surveillance report is being published by the Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) rather than CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Content changes have been made as well. For instance, some tables and figures from previous reports have been deleted or modified, whereas others have been added. In addition, the 2009 report includes information about investigations of specific cases and outbreaks of viral hepatitis identified by state and local reporting areas that involved CDC epidemiologic or laboratory assistance. Information about deaths attributed to viral hepatitis also is included for the first time. Perhaps the most significant addition to this report is the inclusion of case-report data for chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections. The inclusion of these data represents an important first step towards national monitoring of the prevalence of viral hepatitis in the United States.

      As part of CDC’s National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS), viral hepatitis case-reports are received electronically from state health departments via CDC’s National Electronic Telecommunications System for Surveillance (NETSS), a computerized public health surveillance system that provides CDC with data regarding cases of nationally notifiable diseases on a weekly basis. Although surveillance infrastructure is in place for reporting of acute infection, reports of chronic hepatitis B and C, which account for the greatest burden of disease, are not submitted by most states. As noted in a recent report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) (1), surveillance capacity to monitor both acute and chronic viral hepatitis is limited at the state and local levels, resulting in incomplete and variable data.

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