Hepatitis A cases cause alert in Canberra

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THE ACT Health Directorate is working with NSW Health to investigate a cluster of cases of hepatitis A in the South Korean community following outbreaks in Canberra and Sydney since June. 

To date, eight cases in adults of South Korean heritage have been affected here in the ACT and in Sydney since June.

ACT Health says most of these cases have not reported recent overseas travel.

“Australia has a low incidence of hepatitis A and when outbreaks occur, they are linked to consumption of contaminated food products or person-to-person spread,” an ACT Health spokesperson says.

“However, at this stage of the investigation, no specific food has been connected to the outbreak.

“South Korea is currently experiencing a large outbreak of hepatitis A, with over 11,000 cases reported so far this year.

“The ACT Health Directorate is reminding the South Korean community in Canberra and anyone travelling to South Korea, of the importance of vaccination prior to travel and practicing good hand hygiene to reduce the risk of spread.

“Hepatitis A is caused by a virus that spreads in contaminated food or through poor hygiene. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, fever and yellowing of the skin, dark urine and pale stools.

“NSW Health and the ACT Health Directorate will keep local communities updated if further public health advice is required.”

ACT Health recommend:

  • Vaccination – two doses of vaccine prevents infection, and at least one dose is strongly recommended prior to travel, especially where there is an ongoing outbreak. The vaccine is available through your GP.
  • Hand hygiene – washing hands thoroughly in soap and water for at least 15 seconds and drying them thoroughly. This is particularly important after going to the toilet, touching soiled linen or items, changing nappies, and before preparing or eating food.

More information via factsheet.

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