Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth hepatitis A cases reach 17

The number of people infected with hepatitis A has reached 17 after officials linked the ongoing outbreak with eight earlier cases.

The eight cases occurred within one family in November.

Up to 700 people, including staff and pupils at schools, are to be vaccinated against the disease.

Public Health England said risk of transmission at schools and preschools was low and it is thought is was spread through contact between families.

Dr Anand Fernandes, consultant in health protection at Public Health England (PHE) Wessex, said: "Largely what we have seen with these cases is they are children, and children tend to be asymptomatic, so getting a handle on the disease is more tricky."

"The overwhelming majority have been transmission within a household.

"There is very little evidence there is transmission in the schools."

Children and staff at Isambard Brunel Junior School, Meredith Infant and Pre-school and Izzies Nursery School are to be vaccinated.

After the eight cases within one family were confirmed in November, a selection of pupils and staff were vaccinated at Devonshire Infant School in Portsmouth and Fernhurst Junior School, Southsea.

One pupil at Devonshire and one of their family members had contracted the disease.

The vaccination was later extended to all 180 pupils and about 30 staff at the school.

It was also offered as a precaution to the children and staff at Fledglings pre-school.

On 28 January vaccinations were offered to pupils and staff at Isambard Brunel Junior School after a pupil there contracted the disease, often associated with foreign travel.

Four of the pupil's family members also contracted the disease.

There are two other cases in which PHE is unsure about how they were contracted.

Hepatitis A facts

  • Hepatitis A is a viral disease, which affects the liver
  • The illness usually begins with a sudden onset of fever (temperature), feeling unwell, loss of appetite, nausea and stomach pain which is followed within a few days by jaundice
  • The infection is most commonly spread from person to person by infected faeces and poor hygiene
  • Good hand washing, especially after using the toilet, and before eating, is the most effective way to prevent hepatitis A spreading
  • Illness may appear between two to six weeks after contact with an infected person
  • Symptoms usually clear up within two months, although occasionally last up to six months, and older adults tend to have more severe symptoms.
  • In most cases the liver will make a full recovery.

Source: Public Health England

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