Hepatitis A outbreak in Ashburton

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 09:56 03/05/2013

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A hepatitis A outbreak in Ashburton has led to a a vaccination clinic being set up in a local preschool.

An official alert has also been sent out to Ashburton medical centres by the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB).

There have been five confirmed cases of hepatitis A in Ashburton recently, CDHB medical officer of health Dr Cheryl Brunton said.

Two adults and three children have been infected from three separate households and the CDHB is actively investigating the possible source of the infection, Brunton said.

One of the infected children attends a preschool in Ashburton, and Community and Public Health (CPH) held a vaccination clinic at the early childhood centre for the teachers and other preschoolers yesterday.

The three affected Ashburton households were also offered vaccinations.

Ashburton GPs have been sent out an alert of the increased number of hepatitis A cases, Brunton said.

So far none of the cases have been linked to the recent outbreak in Christchurch, she said.

HOW IT IS SPREAD

It will take two to six weeks for the symptoms of hepatitis A to begin to show.

The virus is spread by contact with the faeces of an infected person and can also be passed on through close personal contact (including sexual contact), poor personal hygiene, sharing personal belongings such as a toothbrush and contaminated foods.

The most infectious period is usually from two weeks before until one week after jaundice shows, which is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.

Early symptoms can often be mistaken for the flu and some people, especially children, may have no symptoms at all.

Common symptoms are: fever, jaundice, anorexia, nausea, abdominal discomfort, malaise or dark urine.

The CDHB is urging Cantabrians to see their doctor if they think they may have hepatitis A.

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- The Press

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