SEOUL, Aug. 28 (Korea Bizwire) – Amidst the growing threat of hepatitis E from European ham and sausages, South Korean public health authorities have announced plans to launch an inquiry to determine the infection route of the disease in the country.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) on Sunday, the inquiry is expected to make clear a number of factors including the occurrence rate and sources of infection, and the findings will be used by the public health organization to set out plans for the prevention and management of hepatitis E.
Due to the legal categorization of hepatitis E in South Korea, the illness has not been considered an infectious disease, which resulted in a lack of accurate information regarding the number of patients and the routes of infection, making it harder for health authorities to come up with effective countermeasures.
Health authorities currently estimate around 100 South Koreans suffer from hepatitis E each year, with cases of individuals contracting the hepatitis E virus after eating bile from wild boars or raw venison reported in the past.
Often contracted through contaminated water or undercooked pork and venison, the hepatitis E virus can cause a number of symptoms after an incubation period of up to 60 days, including fatigue, stomachache and loss of appetite, leading to jaundice, stronger urine color and grey-colored stool.
Despite the mortality rate being only 3 percent, with most healthy adults being able to recover on their own, medical experts advise those with weaker immune systems like pregnant women, epileptic patients, and organ transplant recipients to take extra precautions.
Hepatitis E patients are advised to avoid cooking until symptoms disappear, while making sure not to come in contact with those vulnerable to the disease.
According to the KCDC, some of the most important rules in preventing the spread of hepatitis E include thoroughly cooking pork and venison, staying safe while traveling in countries under travel alerts, and washing ones hands for over 30 seconds after using the washroom or before cooking.
According to the World Health Organization, around 20 million people contract hepatitis E every year, with 3.3 million showing symptoms.
In 2015, 44,000 people died from the disease.
In developing countries, consumption of contaminated water is among the most prevalent routes of infection, while consumption of contaminated meat is one of the major causes in developed countries like Japan and the U.S.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)