Source of European year long hepatitis A outbreak still under investigation

For over a year now, there have been cases of hepatitis A reported by Italy and seven other EU member States: France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. When first declared, the outbreak was associated with travel to Italy but cases in other countries have not travelled to Italy.

Among the 1,315 cases, 240 people have been confirmed to carry the same hepatitis A virus. Investigations have implicated frozen berries as the vehicle of infection for this outbreak. There are suggestions that these cases are all part of a single outbreak, linked to a common, continuous source. However, there are other possibilities such as cross contamination in a food production environment.

Hepatitis A is completely preventable through vaccination. This outbreak illustrates that, even when travelling to highly developed countries in Europe and elsewhere, it is wise to obtain vaccination against hepatitis A (and hepatitis B) prior to travelling.

Visit our Health Library for more information on exposure to and the prevention of Hepatitis A.

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