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Frozen strawberries from Poland infected with hepatitis A.
There have been numerous hepatitis A diseases in Austria and Sweden in recent months. Researchers have now identified the source of the infection: Polish frozen strawberries.
Strawberries identified as the source of the hepatitis A outbreak
According to a report by the scientific journal "Eurosurveillance", 20 cases of hepatitis A were reported in six districts of Sweden between June and September 2018, of which 17 were confirmed and three were likely. "In combined epidemiological and microbiological studies, imported frozen strawberries, which were produced in Poland, were identified as the source of the outbreak," the magazine says. In Austria, hepatitis A diseases have also been linked to strawberries from the same manufacturer.
Fruits were not sufficiently heated before consumption
According to "Eurosurveillance", the studies in Sweden showed that all those infected had consumed strawberries within 30 days of the onset of the disease.
These were consumed in the form of strawberry smoothies or desserts in juice bars, in old people's homes, in a hotel, in a restaurant and in a school.
“Research and interviews with kitchen staff showed that the strawberries had never been sufficiently heated before serving. Strawberries were the only food that was common to all cases, ”says the study by the Swedish experts.
The genotype of the hepatitis A virus found in Sweden was also found in Austria.
According to the Agency for Food Security (AGES), the Reference Center for Hepatitis A (Center for Virology, Medical University of Vienna) has identified a total of 15 cases with this new genotype since July 2018 (as of October 10, 2018).
"The epidemiological investigations by AGES, as the source of the outbreak, have very probably revealed frozen strawberries from a Polish producer," the agency writes.
According to the information, the frozen strawberries were distributed through the wholesale trade. "The Austrian customers were asked to heat frozen strawberries from the Polish producer before further use," said AGES.
Hepatitis A is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis A virus that is transmitted via smear infection and contaminated food. The main symptom is acute inflammation of the liver (hepatitis).
Basically, depending on the type of virus, hepatitis can have different symptoms, but at the beginning there are usually general symptoms such as tiredness, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, mild fever and vomiting.
Other typical signs such as dark urine, light bowel movements and yellow eyes or skin ("jaundice") may appear later.
The best protection against hepatitis A is vaccination, which is possible for children from the age of twelve months. (ad)