SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

ECDC and EFSA release joint assessment on hepatitis A infections in Italy

Preliminary epidemiological and environmental investigations indicate that frozen berries may be the vehicle of infection for an outbreak of hepatitis A in Italy, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said on Wednesday.

The ECDC released a joint statement on Tuesday with the European Food Safety Authority after health officials confirmed 15 cases of hepatitis A in Poland, the Netherlands and Germany. All of the cases travelled to northern Italy during the exposure period. The two agencies said the evidence strongly suggests the outbreak originated solely in Italy.

A large number of cases reported eating berries before the onset of disease. Hepatitis A virus was also isolated from a pack of mixed frozen berries at the residence of one of the cases.

The agencies reminded travelers to areas reporting outbreaks of hepatitis A of the availability of vaccination to stop the risk of viral transmission while traveling. European Commission member states may consider active or passive immunization of close contacts of cases to prevent secondary transmission of the virus.

The ECDC, EFSA and the European Commission said it was likely that additional cases will be reported and identified. The agencies will continue to closely monitor the matter and will update the risk assessment when new and relevant information becomes available.