Hepatitis A virus is an important cause of food-borne diseases and has been associated with several European outbreaks linked to berries [1–4]. Here, we describe an ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV) in Sweden and Austria and the confirmation of frozen strawberries imported from Poland as the source of infection. The aims are to highlight the importance of sequencing in outbreak investigations and, due to the long shelf-life of the food vehicle, to increase awareness and warnings towards HAV infections related to frozen strawberries in Europe.
According to a report by the scientific journal Eurosurveillance, 20 cases of hepatitis A were reported in six districts of Sweden between June and September 2018, of which 17 were confirmed and three were likely. “In combined epidemiological and microbiological studies, imported frozen strawberries produced in Poland were identified as the source of the outbreak,” the journal said. Also in Austria hepatitis A diseases have been associated with strawberries from the same manufacturer.
Swedish and Austrian researchers have identified strawberries as a source of infection for many hepatitis A diseases in their countries. “Examinations and interviews with kitchen staff showed that the strawberries had never been sufficiently heated before serving. Strawberries were the only food that was common to all cases, “says the Swedish experts.
The best protection against hepatitis A is vaccination, which is available for children 12 months and older.
Hepatitis A outbreak linked to imported frozen strawberries by sequencing, Sweden and Austria, June to September 2018
Theresa Enkirch1,2, Ronnie Eriksson3, Sofia Persson3, Daniela Schmid4, Stephan W. Aberle5,Emma Löf1,6, Bengt Wittesjö7, Birgitta Holmgren8, Charlotte Johnzon9, Eva X. Gustafsson8,Lena M. Svensson10, Lisa Labbé Sandelin11, Lukas Richter4, Mats Lindblad3, Mia Brytting1,Sabine Maritschnik4, Tatjana Tallo1, Therese Malm12, Lena Sundqvist1, Josefine Lundberg Ederth1