Hepatitis A outbreak in Australia spreads to four states

The number of Australians who have caught Hepatitis A has risen and spread to four states.

The first case was identified in Victoria on Saturday and now health officials say they have reports in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

In two of the states, frozen raspberry products from China have been identified as a common link, but in a press conference, Chris Baggoley, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, said the source of the virus was not yet confirmed.

Baggoley said it’s important to put things into perspective, saying that only one in 100 people who eat the suspected products are likely to get Hepatitis A.

“Some will get no symptoms, some will get mild symptoms… but complete recovery is the rule,” he said.

Although the Australian Department of Health says it’s in the process of coordinating a response to the outbreak, Nick Xenophon, an independent senator, said the outbreak revealed “systematic failures” in Australia’s safety regime for imported food products.

“These berries were considered ‘low risk’ but failed the most basic of health checks – carrying a bacteria common in faecal matter,” he said.

Due to the outbreak, the distributor of Patties Foods has recalled four of its products.

Hepatitis A is a virus, or infection, that causes liver disease and inflammation of the liver. When symptoms occur, they may include jaundice, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, fever, diarrhea and fatigue. Children often have hepatitis A with few symptoms. A person can spread the hepatitis A virus about two weeks before his or her own symptoms appear.

Hepatitis A most commonly comes from contaminated food or water. This form of hepatitis never leads to a chronic infection and usually has no complications. The liver usually heals from hepatitis A within two months.