Outbreak of Hepatitis A investigated in Rhyl - Statement from Public Health Wales

Public Health Wales is investigating, following a second case of Hepatitis A in a child at Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant in Rhyl.

Vaccination is being offered as a precaution to children and staff at the school, as well as to children and carers who attended an after school club.

In younger children, Hepatitis A is most often a mild and short term infection. In most cases a young child with hepatitis A will not demonstrate any symptoms, but can still pass on the infection to others. 

The new case is likely to be connected to a previous diagnosed case of Hepatitis A at the school in January. The timing of the new case suggests that other children at the school may also have had the infection without knowing it.

Vaccination can help prevent spread of the infection to older people and those with underlying health conditions who are at greater risk of more severe infection.

Dr Graham Brown, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, Public Health Wales, said: “Public Health Wales is working closely with Denbighshire County Council Environmental Health Officers to investigate a suspected case of Hepatitis A, and to offer advice to parents, school staff and pupils.  The risk to the public remains low.

“In younger children, Hepatitis A is usually a mild and short term infection, and in most cases the child will not demonstrate any symptoms.  This suggests that other children at the school may have had the infection without knowing it.

“When symptoms do appear they are usually flu-like, and include tiredness, general aches and pains, headaches and fever, as well as loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pains, jaundice, very dark urine and itchy skin.

“People are advised to contact their own GP or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 if they have any concerns about their health or their child’s health.”

Denbighshire County Council Environmental Health Officers and Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board are supporting the investigation.

The school has received public health advice on the control and prevention of infection, including hand washing and disinfection information from Environmental Health Officers.

Hepatitis A vaccination is not routinely offered on the NHS as the infection is rare in the UK.

However, it is strongly advised that anyone travelling to a country where the infection is more common (particularly Africa, northern and southern Asia, Central America and southern and eastern Europe) should receive the Hepatitis A vaccination along with any other travel immunisations recommended by their GP.

Further information about Hepatitis A is available on the Public Health Wales website at http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/43692

Posted on Tuesday 21st March 2017