Cases rise in North Lanarkshire hepatitis A outbreak
The number of confirmed cases of hepatitis A linked to a bakery in North Lanarkshire has increased from nine to 42, according to health officials.
The JB Christie bakery in Airdrie closed temporarily last week while NHS Lanarkshire investigated an outbreak of the infection.
It reopened on Tuesday after a "deep clean" and other control measures.
NHS Lanarkshire said "almost all" of those patients who required hospital treatment had been discharged home.
An investigation into the outbreak has indicated that food produced and sold at the bakery's outlets in Airdrie and Coatbridge between 20 March and 13 April may have been affected.
NHS Lanarkshire said JB Christie had co-operated fully with health officials and there were currently no public health concerns regarding the safety of food produced by the firm.
However, it added that new cases were "likely to continue to be identified in the coming weeks", as it can take between 15 and 50 days for symptoms to develop after the virus enters the body.
What is hepatitis A?
- Hepatitis A is a viral infection which leads to inflammation of the liver and can cause mild to severe illness.
- Symptoms are generally a flu-like illness, loss of appetite, nausea, fever, abdominal pains or jaundice (a yellowing of the eyes or skin). The infection will clear with time and there are no long-term effects.
- Can be caused by hand-to-mouth contact of something that has been contaminated by the faeces (stools) of someone with hepatitis A.
- Almost everyone recovers fully from hepatitis A with a lifelong immunity. A very small proportion of people infected with hepatitis A could develop serious complications.
NHS Lanarkshire has asked the public to remain aware of the possible symptoms.
Officials say that although the risk of contracting the infection is low, anyone who has experienced a flu-like illness, loss of appetite, nausea, fever, abdominal pains or jaundice (a yellowing of the eyes or skin) should contact their GP in the usual way or NHS24 by dialling 111.
Dr Femi Oshin, NHS Lanarkshire consultant in public health medicine, Dr Oshin added: "Hepatitis A is usually a food-borne virus which can be spread by hand-to-mouth contact when there is poor hand hygiene.
"As such, one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the hepatitis A infection is good hand hygiene - thorough hand washing and drying.
"We would like to remind everyone that they can protect themselves by washing their hands, particularly after visiting the toilet and before preparing or eating food."
A helpline has been set up to provide general information about hepatitis A and the outbreak. The helpline - 0800 028 2816 - is open from 08:00 to 22:00 daily.