The high incidence of Hepatitis A cases in Canterbury has prompted reasons for concern among the health officials. Nearly 12 people have been infected with the deadly virus since December. This is significantly higher than two or three cases on an average per year.
The source of the virus however, still remains a mystery according to official health reports. There possibility of some association between the three new cases and the previous ones, in the opinion of Dr Mel Brieseman, medical officer, Canterbury District.
"Some are related. Some are boyfriend or girlfriend. All are part of family clusters. We still haven't identified any likely source, but we're processing information in that regard. We're asking who they've been with, where they've been, what they've been eating", he said.
No instance of eating a meal together has been documented so far, which makes the identification of the source of contamination all the more difficult. The most common mode of transmission is through contaminated food.
In view of the above situation, doctors have been alerted regarding the increase in hepatitis A infection. Generalized fatigue, discomfort in the abdomen, fever, nausea and jaundice that manifests at a later stage are the most commonly observed symptoms.
Identification of the contamination source is the only way to restrict the spread of the virus. If not, the region would have to witness disastrous consequences in the near future.