Outbreak of hepatitis B reported in Wales

Health officials are investigating an outbreak of four people with Hepatitis B, an infection that spreads through bodily fluids and can cause permanent liver damage, in Swansea, Wales.

Public Health Wales and the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board are working together to investigate the source of the four cases and the links between them, the BBC reports. Dr. Jörg Hoffmann, a consultant in communicable disease control at Public Health Wales, has urged concerned patients to contact their general practitioner.

"Hepatitis B is a viral infection that spreads through bodily fluids and can cause long-term liver damage,” Hoffman said, according to the BBC. “Anyone who believes they may have come into contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is infected should seek advice from their GP. People at increased risk of contracting Hepatitis B include anyone who has had unprotected sex with an infected person, injecting drug users who share needles and people who have travelled to countries where Hepatitis B is common. The public are reminded of the importance of not having unprotected sex with new partners."

Hoffman said that in 2010, there were 200 confirmed cases of Hepatitis B in Wales. A vaccine is available for the disease for those who are at increased risk.

Public Health Wales made no comment on the condition of the four individual patients.