Poor hygiene causes hepatitis outbreak

Chef washing salad

On the Gulf of Nicoya Coast in Costa Rica, contaminated food is believed to be responsible for 33 hepatitis infections reported over an 11-day period this month in Barranca, Chacarita and El Roble.

Following laboratory tests which came back negative, the Ministry of Health has ruled out the possibility of contaminated water having caused the outbreak. “The research carried out by epidemiologists confirms that the source of contamination was poor hygiene in the preparation of food products and the presence of fecal coliforms (faeces) in food.”

Hepatitis A mainly occurs through oral contact with the faeces of a contaminated person, which can happen through contaminated food and water, handling everyday items and sexual contact. The disease poses a significant risk to travellers to developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are lacking. Infection is vaccine preventable and a course of hepatitis A vaccine offers highly effective and long-term prevention.