Department of International Cooperation, International Medical Center of Japan, Department of Public Health, School of Medicine, Toho University, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers Clinc, Tokyo, Japan
From 1978 to 1993 a study of acute viral hepatitis contracted by the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) during their assignments in tropical and subtropical countries was conducted. Of 10,509 subjects in this study, 240 cases of acute viral hepatitis were confirmed (hepatitis A = 139, hepatitis B = 72, and non-A, non-B hepatitis = 29). The annual morbidity was 5.1% in 1978 and 4.9% in 1979, with hepatitis A accounting for 80% of the cases. However, it decreased significantly after the prophylactic inoculation with immune serum globulin (ISG) was started in 1980. A significant decrease of hepatitis B from 1.2% in 1980 to 0.1% in 1990 was also seen after vaccination was introduced for all volunteers in 1988. Health education concerning food and water sanitation, and providing general information on viral hepatitis, was also conducted throughout this period. These results indicate that acute viral hepatitis could be successfully prevented in the JOCV with a combination of ISG, hepatitis B vaccination, and health education.