Pork sausages and pre-packed ham from a leading UK supermarket may have unintentionally infected thousands of people with the Hepatitis E virus, Public Health England (PHE) have warned.
PHE researchers probed the shopping habits of those infected with hepatitis E and found the consumption of ham and sausages from one store was a recurring feature.
Imported pork infects between 150,000 and 200,000 British people a year with the virus, the new research claims, and the products mainly come from Holland and Germany.
Hepatitis E, which is officially called HEV G3-2, can cause liver cirrhosis (scarring of the liver which prevents it working properly) and neurological damage.
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UK pigs do not have this particular virus strain.
PHE stressed that this “does not infer blame on the supermarket” and along with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said they will not be naming the store.
The supermarket in question has not been named, and instead researchers are referring to it as Supermarket X, reports the Mirror.
The products have been reported as pork sausages which need cooking before being ready to eat, as well as ready-to-eat pre-packaged and sliced ham.
With the increase in figures of those affected, NHS Blood and Transplant have begun screening all donated blood and will do the same for donated organs and tissues in the future, The Times reports.
The research paper was based on monitoring the shopping of 60 infected people.
Most were said to suffer few symptoms however some develop serious illnesses, particularly those whose immune systems that may have been suppressed from other treatments.
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It is estimated that up to two per cent of people became ill.
One person interviewed had to go to intensive care after suffering a paralysed diaphragm when he contracted the virus from Dutch salami. He told The Times he had not recovered yet.
Dutch scientists claimed the virus is spread by collecting slaughtered pigs’ blood before adding it back to the meat after processing it but without sterilising it.