Vigilance against hepatitis A needed

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In Hong Kong, China, 14 people have been hospitalised with hepatitis A since 1 October and the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health has issued an appeal for vigilance against the disease. Travellers are reminded to stay alert and maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene.

Five of the cases are confirmed to have been imported from Pakistan or Bangladesh but a common source of infection for the remainder is yet to be identified. “Our epidemiological investigations so far have not identified a common food or water source among these cases. There was also no epidemiological linkage identified among them. The CHP's investigations are ongoing. We will continue to closely monitor the situation,” a CHP spokesman said. “The CHP will update relevant non-governmental organisations of the latest situation of hepatitis A and its preventative measures and seek their support to strengthen health education and promotion among the Pakistani community. The CHP will also arrange broadcasting of related health messages via radio channel to raise their awareness of the risk of contracting hepatitis A.”

The disease is vaccine preventable and can be passed onto humans primarily through oral contact with the faeces of an infected person. Travellers are advised to take preventative measures that include: thoroughly washing hands before eating or handling food and after going to the toilet; cooking food thoroughly before consumption; thoroughly cleaning and washing food; and properly disposing of rubbish.