Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Hepatitis E in British pigs - BBC Transcript

Following on from yesterdays report:

Hepatitis E in pigs - BBC reports

we have managed to obtain a transcript from what appears to be an earlier broadcast on the 2nd October 2012. 

This contains some alarming information for Britain, the United States and elsewhere

The  full transcript is here we just give some quotes. "Dalton" is Dr Harry Dalton – The Royal Cornwall Hospital

What Doctors Don't Tell You, hepatitis E...

Our studies have shown that hepatitis E is in fact the commonest cause of viral hepatitis here in the UK. The incidence of the infections, that's new infections every year, is 0.2% of the population, so that's a 120,000 infections every year, now that's an awful lot. In our Cornish population we estimate that about 30% of Cornish men and Cornish women over the age of 80 have been exposed to this virus at some stage in their life. And it's a slightly different strain of virus to the one found in the developing world but it's very closely related and this particular virus is what's called a zoonotic infection derived from animals and in the case of hepatitis E the primary host is the pig. They're perfectly happy pigs, they're not ill in any way, they just carry the virus and it's been estimated that about 85% of the pigs in the UK, for example, show evidence of infection and at one time 20% of the pigs in Britain are excreting this virus in their stool in very large quantities. And then somehow the virus is making its way from the pig population to human beings. There are various theories about how this might happen, the best evidence is it's contracted by eating pig meat - sausages, liver, that kind of thing - that haven't been cooked properly and they cause infection in that way. The key thing about it is the cooking temperature to kill this virus is 71 degrees centigrade but for 20 minutes, so that's quite a long time to cook a sausage. 

Can hepatitis E be spread by contaminated blood products too? 

Yes it can. 

And are our blood stocks routinely tested for hepatitis E? 

No our blood stocks aren't routinely tested and that's obviously a worry. They're certainly worried about it in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration are actively looking at this problem because they're very concerned about if they've got it in their blood supply - and they're not sure, they don't know in fact - and what implications that might have. ...

What about the risk during pregnancy? 

The risk during pregnancy in India and the developing countries - high mortality if you're pregnant. In this country we don't see that, it's a different strain of virus, it means that most cases that we see are not in women of childbearing age. 

Is the emergence of hepatitis E here in the UK, is this a new disease or is it a disease that we've only just come to recognise? 

I think it's almost certainly been here for well over 200 years and we've only just clocked on to it. We were misled by poor quality initial diagnostics and a perceived wisdom which said hepatitis E is just a problem in the developing world and that became the mantra and it was really very badly wrong. ...