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Latino Daily News

Sunday June 24, 2012

Viral Hepatitis B in Children Eradicated in Cuba

Cuba has eradicated acute viral hepatitis B in children younger than 15, thanks to immunization campaigns featuring vaccines that provide lifetime protection, state media reported.

No cases of the disease have been reported on the island in the past 23 years in the pediatric age group, with the incidence of the disease reduced by 99.04 percent from 2,194 cases in 1989 to 21 in 2011, all of them involving people older than 30, the official Granma newspaper reported, citing medical specialists.

Cuba has administered the Heberbiovac HB vaccine, which is produced by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, since 1992.

The vaccination campaign was later expanded to students and members of at-risk groups, such as health professionals and dialysis patients, among others, Granma said.

Everyone in Cuba below the age of 31 has been vaccinated against the disease, Granma said.

Hepatitis B is one of the five viruses that have been identified as causing swelling of the liver, a disease that can become chronic if contracted at an early age and can cause blood problems, cirrhosis and cancer.