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Hepatitis A in Oamaru update

Southern DHB has complete testing for Hepatitis A amongst the children and staff associated with Edna McCulloch Kindergarten in Oamaru - with three further cases of the virus detected out of more than 55 individuals checked through blood testing earlier this week.

Hepatitis A was last week diagnosed in three children from two families associated with the kindy.

“It is good news that there is a very small number of individuals who have contracted the virus,” says Dr Keith Reid, Medical Officer of Health, Southern DHB.

“We would like to thank the staff, children and families who have been very accommodating and helpful as we’ve responded to this outbreak. We’d also like to acknowledge South Hill Medical general practice, which supported us in testing and vaccinations.”

“With the vaccinations being completed today, I hope that everyone can enjoy the holidays,” Dr Reid says.

Public Health officials will continue to follow up with household contacts of the newly detected cases. This work is likely to extend into next week.

Close contacts who have tested negative were offered Hepatitis A vaccination as a precaution. Anyone who has contracted the illness, even if they are asymptomatic – which is often the case for preschool age children, develops life-long immunity to the virus without the need for vaccination.

The origin of the virus has not been yet to be identified but is thought to be outside the country as Hepatitis A is uncommon in New Zealand.

Hepatitis A is a viral illness is acquired by eating or drinking food or water which is contaminated with the virus. The infection can also be spread by close contact with an infected person.

The best way to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A is through good hand hygiene - washing hands before and after preparing food and after going to the toilet.

Anyone with questions or concerns can contact Healthline 0800 611 116 (free and 24 hours).

ENDS

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