Lanarkshire hepatitis A outbreak total rises to 61
The number of confirmed cases of hepatitis A linked to a bakery in North Lanarkshire has increased to 61.
Health officials have urged the public to be on the lookout for symptoms of the infection, especially people living in Airdrie and Coatbridge.
The outbreak has been linked to products sold by the JB Christie bakery in Airdrie.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection which leads to inflammation of the liver and can cause mild to severe illness.
Dr Femi Oshin, NHS Lanarkshire consultant in public health medicine, said: "Some people who have become infected with hepatitis A, can feel well and have no symptoms for several weeks prior to developing symptoms and becoming unwell. However, during this time they can be infectious to others.
"Others - especially younger children and babies - may become infected and not develop any symptoms, yet may be infectious to others for several weeks.
"This is why we are continuing to raise awareness of the infection to help us identify other possible cases so that treatment can be provided if appropriate and to prevent further spread of the infection."
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.
The bakery closed for a short period after it was first linked to the outbreak at the beginning of May but reopened after staff tested negative for the infection and the premises were given a deep clean.
Health officials later praised the bakery for its co-operation during the investigation.
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.