(HealthDay News) — New cases of hepatitis C are drastically underreported to federal officials, according to a case series and chart review published online June 30 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Arthur Kim, M.D., director of the Viral Hepatitis Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from a government-funded study that followed a group of 183 Massachusetts patients diagnosed with acute hepatitis C between 2001 and 2011.
The researchers found that only 149 of those cases had been reported to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and entered into the agency’s automated database. Of those cases, 130 were classified as a confirmed present or past hepatitis C infection, based on state-level case definitions, and 43 were investigated as potential acute hepatitis C cases. However, only a single case fully met the definition of a confirmed U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-reportable case. The others were disqualified because of factors such as the absence of specific symptoms or not meeting threshold lab test results.
“We were shocked to find only one made it to the CDC, reported as an acute hepatitis C case,” Kim told HealthDay. “This indicates that only a small fraction of cases ever get reported to the CDC. They might be seeing only what amounts to the tip of a very large iceberg.”