Concerns over many hepatitis deaths

the number of people dying as a result of a hepatitis infection is higher than expected, according to a study by Erasmus MC. The hospital calls the deaths "largely avoidable", because there are effective treatments available against hepatitis B and C, reports. 

According to the study, about 500 patients a year die from liver diseases caused by a hepatitis infection. "There is no other known infectious disease in the Netherlands of which so many people die year after year, except possibly influenza", researcher Robine Hofman said.

Previous figures were much lower because only deaths by an actual hepatitis infection were counted. Not deaths due to diseases caused by hepatitis infections, such as liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.

The researchers believe that the Dutch health services seriously underestimate this problem. They call for a National Hepatitis Plan to raise awareness and identify unknown virus carriers.