Ashburton Hepatitis A outbreak prompts hand washing warning

Thursday July 11, 2013

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) is contacting Ashburton schools about the importance of thorough hand washing following another case of Hepatitis A being confirmed in the area.
 
Dr Cheryl Brunton, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says in the last two months there have been 12 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A in Ashburton. The most recent case of Hepatitis A was confirmed yesterday and is a primary school pupil.
 
“Hepatitis A is a serious illness but one which can be easily prevented by good hand hygiene,” Dr Brunton says.
 
“Washing and drying your hands thoroughly after toileting, changing nappies and before preparing food is crucial to preventing its spread.” 
 
The CDHB has written to all schools in the Ashburton area to reiterate the importance of thorough hand washing.
 
“We’re also asking schools to keep an eye out for children or staff with possible symptoms of Hepatitis A. People with symptoms are being asked to see their doctor promptly and to stay away from school until they have been given a clearance by their doctor,” Dr Brunton says.
 
Hepatitis A symptoms may include:
  • nausea and vomiting
  • yellow eyes or skin (jaundice)
  • dark urine
  • pale faeces
  • feeling unwell 
  • lack of energy
  • not feeling like eating
  • stomach upset and pains
  • fever
  • general aches and pains.
Canterbury District Health Board’s Community and Public Health division held three clinics in Ashburton with about 300 adults and children receiving a vaccination. The most recent clinic was held on June 18, 2013.
 
Dr Brunton says known contacts of this latest case are being followed up to prevent further spread.
 
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Page last reviewed: 27 August 2013
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