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Eating undercooked or raw pork is the most common cause of hepatitis E infection in the EU, according to a new report.
Hepatitis E is a liver disease. Many who contract it display no symptoms, or very mild ones. However, it can lead to liver failure in others (which can be fatal).
An article by the European Food Safety Authority [EFSA] claims that more than 21,000 cases of hepatitis E infections have been reported in humans in the last decade – 10 times the amount in the commensurate period before.
Rosina Girones, chair of EFSA’s working group on hepatitis E, said: “Even if it is not as widespread as other foodborne diseases, hepatitis E is a growing concern in the EU.
“In the past, people thought the main source of infection was drinking contaminated water while travelling outside the EU. But now we know the main source of transmission of the disease in Europe is food.”
The EFSA says: “Domestic pigs are the main carriers of hepatitis E in the EU. Wild boars can also carry the virus, but meat from these animals is less commonly consumed.”
Experts from the EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards want people to understand the health risks associated with consuming the meat.