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NHS hospital announces Hep A screening


9 June, 2008  

A hospital in Hampshire, UK, has announced that more than 60 newborn babies are to be screened for Hepatitis A after a maternity unit staff member contracted the disease.

Managers at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester have written to 67 mothers informing them of the outbreak and advising them that the screening is a precautionary measure.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is investigating the outbreak, which began not at the hospital but at two schools in the city. So far six cases have been identified, including three pupils at Winnall Primary School and one pupil at Osborne Special School.

Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said in a letter to mothers of babies born between May 15 and 22: “The advice we have had from the Health Protection Agency is that the risk of transmission to you is so low that screening is not recommended.

“The risk of hepatitis A having been transmitted to your baby is also very low. However, we realise you may be worried and so we are arranging screening.”

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus and its most obvious symptom is jaundice. Although common globally, it is rare in the UK.

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Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust