Public health authorities in the Republic of Ireland and the UK are investigating suspected foodborne outbreaks of Hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection following similar outbreaks in other European countries and in the USA.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has announced that ten cases of HAV infection have so far been identified, half of which are linked to the consumption of imported frozen berries. The HAV strain responsible for the outbreak is the same as that found in cases from a similar outbreak in Italy, which has also been linked to frozen berries. The FSAI is advising consumers to boil imported frozen berries for at least one minute before consumption.
Meanwhile in the UK, Public Health England and other UK health bodies are investigating a cluster of 15 cases of HAV infection that is not associated with foreign travel. Most of the cases became ill in the period from March to May and an identical strain of HAV genotype 1B has been identified from all the cases. This genotype has also been found in foodborne outbreaks elsewhere in Europe. As yet, no food vehicle for the outbreak has been identified and the source remains unclear.
The on-going HAV outbreak in the USA associated with imported pomegranate seeds from Turkey has now affected at least 155 people in nine states. The FDA is currently detaining any further shipments of seeds offered for import from Turkish supplier Goknur.