24 Dec 2015

Hepatitis A cluster in travellers returning from Rhodes, Greece

Public Health England has identified hepatitis A infections in UK residents who had been to Greece Hepatitis A cluster in travellers returning from Rhodes, Greece

Public Health England has identified a small cluster of hepatitis A infections in UK travellers who have returned from the island of Rhodes in Greece [1].

As of 23 December 2015, a total of six cases (five confirmed and one probable) have been reported, with onset dates ranging between 3 November and 1 December 2015. All cases had spent time in Rhodes during October 2015, of which four stayed in Faliraki, one stayed in Ialyssos, and the location for the other is unknown. The source of infection is unknown and investigations are ongoing.

Advice for travellers

Hepatitis A is a viral infection transmitted through contaminated food and water or by direct contact with an infectious person.

Those at increased risk include:

  • Those with existing medical conditions, such as liver disease or haemophilia
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who inject drugs
  • Individuals exposed to the virus through their work
  • Those going to areas with hepatitis A outbreaks who have limited access to safe water and medical care

Symptoms can include tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, fever and jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes) and are often mild or absent in young children. The disease can become more serious with advancing age. Recovery can vary from weeks to months. Following hepatitis A illness, immunity is lifelong. Returning travellers with symptoms should contact their GP or for advice and assessment. 

Advice for health professionals

The risk of hepatitis A to travellers to Greece remains low. However, for those travelling to affected areas, such as Faliraki, vaccination may be considered; in particular for those whose activities put them at increased risk and for those who have limited access to safe water and medical care, at the discretion of their healthcare provider.

GPs and other health professionals should consider the possibility of a hepatitis A diagnosis in symptomatic returning travellers.

More information about Hepatitis A is available in our Hepatitis A factsheet.

  1. Public Health England. Personal communication. Travel and Migrant Health Section, Public Health England, 23 December 2015.

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