Health officials in Jersey are investigating some Hepatitis E infections. It is unusual for Jersey to record any cases of the virus, according to health officials.

The Environmental Health Department in Jersey said the number of sick people is low. Jersey is the biggest of the Channel Islands and is near France.

An association has been made with undercooked pork, based on food history information obtained from sick people in interviews.

All cases have been adults and most of those sick are aged over 50. There have been hospitalizations but no deaths have been recorded.

Patient confidentiality reasons were cited for not providing details on exactly how many people were sick, their age range, gender or when they became ill.

Hepatitis E infection is a disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). Advice to avoid infection includes thoroughly cooking all meat, especially pork, before eating it and washing hands after touching uncooked meat or meat products.

People with compromised immune systems or liver disease, the elderly, pregnant women and children are advised not to eat raw or undercooked pork meat products. Those who have the virus should avoid preparing food for others for two weeks after symptoms begin.

Symptoms of hepatitis E can include fatigue, poor appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice. However, many people, especially young children, have no symptoms. They usually appear from two to six weeks after exposure to the virus and last from one to four weeks.

Belgium study
Meanwhile, researchers have looked at the HEV RNA positivity rate of pork meat products in Belgian supermarkets.

Overall, 54 samples of pork liver pâtés, raw dried hams and raw dried sausages were purchased from Belgian supermarkets and analyzed by RT-PCR. Findings were published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology.

Seventeen products tested positive. HEV RNA was found in 65 percent of the pork liver pâtés and 15 percent of raw dried hams but no raw dried sausages.

Analysis of four isolates from pork liver pâté samples showed similarities with human cases from Germany and Belgium.

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