Popular Imported Meat Product Linked To Hepatitis E Outbreak

Popular Imported Meat Product Linked To Hepatitis E Outbreak


After recent spikes in hepatitis E in the UK, Public Health England, a government agency that focuses on the medical well-being of the public, decided to look into the outbreak. Researchers found that pork products sold at a leading supermarket in the UK may have contained hepatitis E, putting thousands of people at risk.

Hepatitis E Outbreak Due To Contaminated Pork Products

When researchers realized that may of the people who contracted hepatitis E shopped at the same store, they looked into their purchases. It turns out many had regularly purchased ham and sausages from the supermarket. Based on a previous report that showed British pigs do not contain the virus, researchers concluded it’s likely that the outbreak is occurring from pork products being shipped in from outside of the UK.

As many as 200,000 people in the UK each year are infected with the hepatitis E virus through imported pork. Most experience influenza-like symptoms, along with jaundice. Hepatitis E can also cause fatal liver damage. For those with pre-existing liver conditions and women who are pregnant, the virus can be deadly.

There are at least four different types of hepatitis E. The virus is most commonly found in third world countries or areas with frequent water contamination, however it can occur in ares with safe drinking water supplies as well. Most of the cases in these areas are caused by genotype 3 virus, related to an infection with the virus that originates in animals.

Researchers note that both pre-cooked products like ready-to-eat pre-packaged ham, as well as pork products required to be cooked at home such as sausages, seem to be associated with hepatitis E. The supermarket’s own brand of sausages were found to be significantly associated with the virus. The supermarket that may be linked to the outbreak is being kept under wraps as Public Health England continues their investigation. The organization explained that the discovery “does not infer blame on the supermarket,” so they will not be naming the store.

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