Update on Hep A in Ashburton

Tuesday July 30, 2013

Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey says the Ashburton community holds the key to preventing future spread of Hepatitis A.

Over the last few days there has been an additional four confirmed or suspected Hepatitis A cases, bringing the number of confirmed or suspected cases to 17 in the last three months.

“Hepatitis A is a serious illness but one which the Ashburton community can ultimately stop from spreading through good hand hygiene,” Dr Humphrey says.

“Washing and drying your hands thoroughly after toileting, changing nappies and before preparing food is crucial to preventing its spread.” 

Dr Humphrey says young children are often carriers of Hepatitis A, but may not show any symptoms.

“Demonstrating to children proper hand washing technique is very important to stopping the spread of the virus.”

Dr Humphrey says that food handlers have the potential to infect hundreds of people, and is recommending that businesses which employ food handlers should seriously consider vaccinating them against Hepatitis A.

The CDHB continues to follow up the contacts of each confirmed case. Each contact is provided with a tailored recommendation on the best course of action, generally either vaccination or a blood test, and the importance of thorough hand washing is reiterated.

The CDHB has written to all preschools and schools in the Ashburton area to reiterate the importance of thorough hand washing. Resources on handwashing have also been provided. Vaccinations clinics have been held at three Ashburton preschools.

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Page last reviewed: 26 August 2013