The risk of hepatitis A from sewage contamination of a water supply

Commun Dis Rep CDR Rev. 1995 Jan 6;5(1):R1-4.


The drinking water supply of a town became contaminated with sewage. The town's population was surveyed to determine the baseline prevalence of hepatitis A antibodies and to establish whether an associated outbreak of hepatitis A had occurred. Samples of saliva were obtained from 540 people in 200 randomly selected households, and tested for IgG and IgM antibodies to hepatitis A. Fifty-six per cent (279/495) were susceptible to hepatitis A and 43% (213/495) immune as a result of previous infection. Immunity was directly related to age; those who were immune were significantly older than those who were susceptible (mean ages: 43.5 years and 19.0 years; p < 0.0001). Six people were found to have had a recent infection with hepatitis A, but exposure to hepatitis A during the water pollution incident was possible in only one case. The results offer no evidence that this incident caused an outbreak of hepatitis A, but the study has provided useful epidemiological data on hepatitis A.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Hepatitis A / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis A / transmission*
  • Hepatovirus* / immunology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Saliva / virology
  • Sewage / adverse effects*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Water Microbiology*
  • Water Supply*


  • Sewage