Frozen strawberries from Poland infected with hepatitis A.
In Austria and Sweden, there have been numerous hepatitis A illnesses in recent months. Researchers have now located the source of 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 produced in Poland were identified as the source of the outbreak," the journal said. Also in Austria hepatitis A diseases have been associated with strawberries from the same manufacturer.
Swedish and Austrian researchers have identified strawberries as a source of infection for many hepatitis A diseases in their countries. (Image: Tim UR / fotolia.com)
Fruits were not sufficiently heated before consumption
According to "Eurosurveillance", the studies in Sweden showed that all infected people had consumed strawberries within 30 days before the onset of the disease.
These were consumed in the form of strawberry smoothies or desserts in juice bars, nursing homes, a hotel, a restaurant and a school.
"Examinations 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 Swedish experts.
The genotype of hepatitis A virus found in Sweden was also found in Austria.
According to the Agency for Food Security (AGES), a total of 15 cases with this new genotype have been detected by the Reference Center for Hepatitis A (Center for Virology, Medical University of Vienna) since July 2018 (as of 10 October 2018).
"The epidemiological studies of the AGES as a source of outbreaks with very high probability frozen strawberries of a Polish producer," writes the agency.
According to the information, the frozen strawberries were distributed by wholesalers. "The Austrian customers were asked to heat frozen strawberries from the Polish producer before further use," says 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).
In principle, hepatitis can vary depending on the type of virus, but at the beginning it usually shows more general symptoms such as tiredness, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, mild fever and vomiting.
Later, other typical signs such as dark urine, a light bowel movement and yellow eyes or skin ("jaundice") may be added.
The best protection against hepatitis A is vaccination, which is available for children 12 months and older. (Ad)