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IMPORTANT: Hepatitis A notification

Dear Parents & Carers,

 

We have been made aware that a child in UKS2 has been confirmed as having the Hepatitis A virus and consequently some staff and pupils within the school may have been exposed to the virus. Hepatitis A infection can lead to an inflammation of the liver and can be passed between individuals who share close contact with each other. Good hand hygiene is a key measure in preventing spread as it is spread via faecal contamination.

 

Public Health England have advised us that their risk assessment is that the likelihood of any further pupils or staff being diagnosed with this virus is minimal and, as a result, it does not indicate that vaccination of staff and pupils in the school is required at this time but should this change we will keep you informed.

Hepatitis A is usually a self-limiting condition but it is important to seek medical attention if you think your child may have the infection. Symptoms of Hepatitis A include nausea, vomiting, dark urine, pale stools and jaundice. Should your child exhibit any of these symptoms you should seek medical advice and inform the clinician you have received this letter.

 

Please see the information below from Public Health England for further information regarding Hepatitis A.

 

Thank you

 

Mr Beale

 

Hepatitis A

 

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver.  Hepatitis A is inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus.

 

What are the symptoms of Hepatitis A?

People with Hepatitis A can feel quite unwell. Symptoms may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). However there may not be any signs and symptoms, especially in children.

 

Who can get hepatitis A?

Anyone who is not immune is susceptible to infection. More cases occur as a result of infection acquired during travel abroad.

 

How long does it take to show signs of illness after coming in close contact with a person who has Hepatitis A?

It can take 15-50 days to develop symptoms (average 28 days). People with Hepatitis A infection might not have any signs or symptoms of the disease. Children are less likely to have symptoms than adults. Symptoms usually last less than 2 months.

 

How do you catch Hepatitis A?

Infections can result from close contact with someone who has Hepatitis A. The virus is present in the infected person’s faeces (stool). Transfer of the infection occurs when the virus is taken in by mouth from contact with objects, food or drinks that have been contaminated, even in microscopic amounts, by the stool of an infected person. Contamination can happen in a variety of ways, such as when an infected person who prepares or handles food does not wash his or her hands thoroughly after using the toilet and then touches other people’s food. A person can also be infected by drinking water contaminated with Hepatitis A virus or drinking beverages chilled with contaminated ice. Contaminated food, water, and ice can be significant sources of infection for travellers to many areas of the world.

 

How do I know if I have got Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A can only be confirmed from a laboratory (blood) test.

 

What is the treatment for Hepatitis A?

There is no medicine that will treat or cure Hepatitis A. Most people will feel sick for a few weeks to a couple of months before they begin to feel better. During this time, doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids. People with Hepatitis A should check with a health professional before taking any prescription pills, supplements, or over-the-counter medications, which can potentially damage the liver.

 

Can Hepatitis A be prevented?

Yes. Hepatitis A can be prevented by observing the following simple steps:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap after using the toilet and before preparing and eating food.  People with Hepatitis A should not prepare food for others until a week after the jaundice first appeared.
  • Always ensure that toilets are cleaned thoroughly.
  • Thorough cooking of food and boiling of water destroys the virus.
  • Avoid swimming in contaminated water and only drink water form safe sources.
  • When travelling abroad to countries where sanitation is poor boil all your drinking water, including water used for brushing teeth.  Avoid ice and exercise caution with salad and raw vegetables.  Alternatively use bottled water.
  • There is an effective vaccine and an immune globulin to protect against Hepatitis A.

 

What is the Hepatitis A vaccine?

The Hepatitis A vaccine is a jab given to stimulate the body's natural immune system. After the vaccine is given, the body makes antibodies that protect a person against the virus. An antibody is a substance found in the blood that is produced in response to a virus invading the body. These antibodies are then stored in the body and will fight off the infection if a person is exposed to the virus in the future.

 

Is the Hepatitis A vaccine effective?

Yes, the Hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective in preventing Hepatitis A virus infection. Protection begins approximately 2 to 4 weeks after the first injection. A second injection results in long-term protection. However, if a person is already incubating the infection (i.e. process of infection has started but symptoms of illness not yet appeared) the vaccine will not prevent the development of infection.

 

 

Is the Hepatitis A vaccine safe?

Yes, the Hepatitis A vaccine is safe. No serious side effects have resulted from the Hepatitis A vaccine. Soreness at the injection site is the most common side effect reported. As with any medicine, there are very small risks that a serious problem could occur after someone gets the vaccine. However, the potential risks associated with Hepatitis A are much greater than the potential risks associated with the Hepatitis A vaccine.

 

What about going to work or school?

People with certain jobs are more likely to spread infection.  These are:

  • people working in the food and catering business
  • nurses and health care assistants
  • people working in nurseries, schools or play groups
  • Adults and older children who cannot maintain a good standard of hygiene.
  • These workers must stay away from work until at least one week after the appearance of jaundice, after which they are no longer infectious.
  • Children with hepatitis A should stay away from school or nursery until at least one week after the appearance of jaundice.

 

Where can I get further help?

Information can also be obtained by ringing NHS 111 or via the internet at http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Hepatitis-A/Pages/Introduction.aspx


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