Hepatitis A strain strikes in Ireland

The European Centre for Disease and Prevention Control announced on Wednesday that an ongoing outbreak of Hepatitis A may now be affecting Ireland.

The Hepatitis A virus has affected travelers in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland. Three cases of this unique strain of HAV have now been reported in Ireland.

The cases of Ireland do not have any travel history to Italy and they have not had contact with any cases of HAV. The virus, however, is an identical sequence to the cases in the Italian outbreak.

The cases with first reported in Ireland in April. Experts believe that the same contaminated vehicle of infection was in at least Ireland and Italy.

After epidemiological, microbiological and environmental investigators looked into the Italian outbreak, it was discovered that mixed frozen berries was the culprit. In May, an Italian distributor of mixed frozen berries withdrew its product from the market after its packages were discovered to be contaminated with the virus. Because of the shelf life of frozen berries, more cases are expected to be reported.

Even though the mixed frozen berries were identified as the vehicle of infection, experts are still not sure which berry is to blame. This makes finding the point of contamination impossible, which means other cases in Europe are still likely to occur.