In Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee, 1700 cases of hepatitis A were reported in 1994 and 1995. This retrospective review of charts gives some insights into the clinical features of patients hospitalized during this large urban epidemic of hepatitis A. The charts of 256 patients admitted for acute hepatitis A to 15 Shelby County hospitals were reviewed. The median age was 26 years. Nineteen percent of patients had a history of exposure to an infected person, 1% a history of occupational exposure, 1% exposure to contaminated food in a restaurant and 79% no known exposure risks. Five (2%) patients died. The median age of patients who died was 40 years, however, two patients younger than 30 years of age died. Only one patient who died had evidence of underlying chronic liver disease. Patients 40 years of age and older were more likely to have serious complications and death (P = 0.014). This retrospective review confirms that complications and probably death from hepatitis A are more frequent in patients 40 years of age and older. Nonetheless, younger, healthy persons are at risk for serious complications.
Copyright, 1998, Columbia University Division of GastroenterologyHepatitis Review
By Howard J. Worman, M. D.
Willner, I. R., Uhl, M. D., Howard, S. C., Williams E. Q., Riely, C. A., and Waters, B. 1998.