Outbreak of hepatitis A continues – ECDC/EFSA update assessment

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​Since January 2013, 1 315 cases of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection have been reported by 11 Member States as potentially linked to the same ongoing HAV infection outbreak concludes the joint rapid outbreak assessment by ECDC/EFSA.

​Since January 2013, 1 315 cases of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection have been reported by 11 Member States as potentially linked to the same ongoing HAV infection outbreak concludes the joint rapid outbreak assessment by ECDC/EFSA.

Although the outbreak was first associated with travellers to Italy, seven other countries (France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, UK) have reported cases with no travel history in the last 12 months.

Epidemiological investigations in different countries indicate frozen berries as the vehicle of infection for this outbreak and suggest that this could be a single outbreak linked to a common, continuous source in the EU/EEA. However other hypotheses such as cross contamination in a food production environment or that the outbreak strain is already widespread but previously undetected, cannot be excluded.

The current outbreak in several EU/EEA countries poses a risk of secondary transmission through infected individuals. Transmission through infected food handlers and household contacts should be taken into consideration. There is also a risk of HAV transmission through asymptomatic or incubating viraemic blood donors.

Considering the epidemiological and laboratory evidence of contamination of frozen berries, the risk for human health, and ongoing transmission with increasing geographical spread, affected countries could consider implementing mitigating measures such as promoting risk communication, recommending heat treatment of frozen berries before consumption and encouraging HAV vaccination in contacts of cases and in the larger community.

Read moreRapid outbreak assessment: second update, outbreak of hepatitis A in EU/EEA countriesHepatitis A virus

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