BRUSSELS, July 11(Xinhua) — The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said on Tuesday that consumption of raw or undercooked pork meat and liver is the most common cause of hepatitis E infection in the European Union (EU).
EFSA said in its press release that domestic pigs are the main carriers of hepatitis E in the EU. Though wild boars can also carry the virus, meat from these animals is less commonly consumed.
Therefore, experts from EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards recommend that EU members increase awareness of public health risks associated with raw and undercooked pork meat and advise consumers to cook pork meat thoroughly, according to the release.
At the same time, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published a report on hepatitis E in humans.
The report showed that the number of confirmed hepatitis E virus (HEV) cases has been increasing each year from 514 in 2005 to 5,617 cases in 2015 across the members of the EU and the European Economic Area, representing a ten-fold increase.
Although HEV infection is not a reportable disease at the EU-level, better surveillance practices alongside clinical awareness would help to better understand the epidemiology of the disease and support the implementation of prevention measures, said the ECDC.
Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by HEV. Most people who contract hepatitis E display no or mild symptoms. However, in some cases especially for those with liver damage or patients with a weak immune system, it can lead to liver failure which can be fatal, according to EFSA.