Suspected cases of Hepatitis E rise to 3009 – ministry discourages shaking of hands
The Ministry of Health and Social Services, this week said as of 21 August, 3009 cases of suspected hepatitis e have been recorded, 462 cases have been confirmed by laboratory testing and that 24 deaths have been recorded including 10 maternal deaths.
The Ministry urged the people to be vigilant and careful with their hygiene because the virus is transmitted mainly through the faecal-oral route due to faecal contamination of drinking water.
“The risk factors of hepatitis e are related to poor sanitation, allowing virus excreted in the faeces of infected people to reach drinking water supplies,” they added.
According to the ministry, the high risk group include children under the age of 5 years, elderly people over the age of 65 years, pregnant woman, immune-compromised individual (people living with HIV/AIDS, TB patients, diabetic patients), and people with chronic underlying medical conditions.
The Ministry thus far have recognised that a combination of surveillance, safe water supply, sanitation and hygiene, social mobilization and treatment is the most effective approach against the disease.
Meanwhile the Ministry urged the population to maintain hygienic practices such as hand-washing with safe water, particularly before handling food, avoid consumption of water unknown purity and adhere to the World Health Organisation’s safe food practices.
“At large gathering such as wedding, funerals and trade fairs, organisers should ensure provision of safe drinking water, hand-washing facilities, adequate sanitation facilities with hand-washing stations and safe covered food to reduce risk of infection,” the ministry said
Furthermore, members of the public are also advised to avoid shaking hands at these gathering in order to minimize contact with contaminated hands.
Symptoms of the virus include an initial phase of mild fever, anorexia, nausea and vomiting, lasting for a few days, some people may also have abdominal pain, itching, skin rash or joint pain. Infected persons will also get jaundice, with urine and pale stools and a slightly enlarged tender liver.