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Pork Likely to be Linked to Hepatitis E in UK

28 August 2017, at 12:00am

UK - Pork products sold in a leading supermarket may have infected people in the United Kingdom with a form of hepatitis, according to a study by Public Health England.

Researchers carried out an investigation of the shopping habits of people infected with the hepatitis E virus.

The study showed that the respondents had eaten ham and sausages from a leading supermarket chain.

Although PHE decided against naming the supermarket, UK newspapers have reported that it was Tesco, one of Britain's biggest supermarket operators.

A spokesman for PHE said that the risk to public health in England from hepatitis E is low as it is usually a mild, self-limiting illness which most people will clear without any symptoms.

The study was a statistical analysis that found an association between clinical hepatitis E and sausage and ham products rather than direct causation, according to the spokesman.

PHE has said that the virus strain has not been detected in British pigs and infections could be the result of eating products made outside the UK.

The story has made headline news in Britain this week following a major feature about the report in the Sunday Times newspaper.

Health officials say the disease generally results in a mild and short-term infection unless the person has a pre-existing liver disease or is pregnant.

Symptoms of the virus include flu-like feelings, yellowing of the skin and eyes, tiredness, fever, vomiting and loss of appetite. In rare cases, it can cause liver failure and prove fatal.

The Food Standards Agency said that they were aware of the report's findings, and were reviewing all aspects of hepatitis E infection with other government departments and industry.

"The risk from acquiring the hepatitis E virus from eating thoroughly cooked pork or pork products is low. As a precaution, the FSA advises consumers that all whole cuts of pork, pork products and offal should be thoroughly cooked until steaming hot throughout, the meat is no longer pink and juices run clear," The Guardian quoted an FSA spokeswoman as saying.

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