NHS Lanarkshire’s Department of Public Health along with North Lanarkshire Council Environmental Health and other agencies are investigating nine confirmed and nine suspected cases of hepatitis A in North Lanarkshire.
Initial investigations indicate that there could be a possible link to the JB Christie bakery in Airdrie and as a precaution, and in line with public health guidance, environmental health and public health staff are working with the bakery to carry out further investigations.
Dr Josephine Pravinkumar, NHS Lanarkshire consultant in Public Health Medicine said: “Our initial investigations have indicated that there may be a link between these cases and the bakery.
“While the risk is very low, if anyone does experience a flu-like illness, loss of appetite, nausea, fever, abdominal pains or jaundice (a yellowing of the eyes or skin), they should contact NHS24 on 111 or their GP in the usual way.”
Dr Pravinkumar continued: “We would like to thank everyone at the bakery for helping us with the investigation to identify any possible source.
“Once informed of the matter, the bakery owners took the decision to temporarily close their bakery and their two retail outlets in Airdrie and Coatbridge immediately and are fully cooperating with environmental health officers and public health staff.
“All staff at the bakery are being provided with information and support and necessary actions are being taken to prevent any further infection”.
As a precaution, the bakery owners have contacted the outlets it supplies in North Lanarkshire as well as one in Cambuslang and one in West Lothian asking them to withdraw their products from sale.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection which leads to inflammation of the liver and can cause mild to severe illness. The infection will clear with time and there are no long term effects.
Andrew Chisholm, JB Christie managing director, said: “The health and safety of our customers and staff are of paramount importance.
“As soon as we were notified of this possible link, we immediately took the decision to temporarily cease our operations and fully cooperate with environmental health and public health officials.
“This work is continuing and we hope to be able to resume business as normal as soon as possible.”
Hepatitis A key facts
• Hepatitis A is a viral infection which leads to inflammation of the liver and can cause mild to severe illness.
• The symptoms are generally a flu-like illness, loss of appetite, nausea, fever, abdominal pains or jaundice (a yellowing of the eyes or skin). The infection will clear with time and there are no long term effects.
• The infection can be caused by hand to mouth contact of something that has been contaminated by the faeces (stools) of someone with hepatitis A. This could be food or water or by putting the hands in the mouth. This is different from Hepatitis B or C which are blood borne viruses.
• Almost everyone recovers fully from hepatitis A with a lifelong immunity. A very small proportion of people infected with hepatitis A could develop serious complications.
• A safe and effective vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis A.
• Safe water supply, food safety, improved sanitation, hand washing and the hepatitis A vaccine are the most effective ways to combat the disease.
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