Written Answers. - Hepatitis Incidence.

Tuesday, 15 June 1999

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 506 No. 2

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  289.  Mr. Dukes  Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes   asked the Minister for Health and Children  Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen   further to Parliamentary Question No. 56 of 3 June 1999 the number of cases of viral hepatitis type B which have been reported for the first five months of 1999; the measures, if any, he will take in the interest of public health and welfare to combat this highly infectious disease in view of the dramatic increases in incidences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15506/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  In the period 1 January to 28 May 1999, 45 cases of viral hepatitis type B were notified to my Department. This represents a reduction of 30 over the number of cases reported in the same period last year. Control of infectious diseases is the statutory responsibility of health boards, which are required to make arrangements for the diagnosis and treatment of persons with such diseases in their functional area.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for health care personnel, certain patients and their family contacts, security and emergency services personnel who may be at high risk, and susceptible members of high risk groups. The National Immunisation Committee of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, which is reviewing the guidelines on immunisation published in 1996, is considering the issue of appropriate vaccination policy to prevent transmission of infectious diseases, including hepatitis B. The committee expects to finalise the revised guidelines shortly.

A multi-institutional study into the prevalence of hepatitis B in the population is under way and the results of this survey will be beneficial in relation to prevention and control of this disease.

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