A TEAM of health officials deployed to a rural settlement in Ba, yesterday found 33 cases of what is suspected to be hepatitis A.
Led by Dr Mike Kama, from the Fiji Centre for Communicable Disease Control, the team was sent to assess the situation after receiving a report on Monday of eight suspected cases from the Ba Mission Hospital.
"At the time, we received a report that there were only eight suspected cases," Dr Kama said.
"When we looked through the hospital records, we determined there were 33 such suspected cases. At the moment, we are not saying it's a hepatitis A outbreak but we will know all the information once we are sure what these suspected cases are."
The team yesterday visited affected households.
"We are saying it's a concern the increase in the number of suspected cases and we are looking at the possible methods of transmission, which is most commonly, contaminated water or food. The most probable way the disease could have come into the community is from outside."
"It could have been brought by someone abroad or outside this community and then spread internally.
"We are still trying to determine what's the cause."
He said two children were on the list of suspected cases.
"For Hepatitis, we usually see the symptoms in adults better.
"But if confirmation comes that this disease is in fact hepatitis, then our main targets will be keeping children safe.
"The results of whether it is hepatitis A will be determined soon as we are sending blood and stool samples to our laboratory in Suva."
* Hepatitis A is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus
* It is transmitted person to person by ingestion of contaminated food or water or through direct contact with an infectious person
* Symptoms are similar to hepatitis A, salmonella, typhoid or even leptospirosis
* The symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, internal body pain or light coloured stools
* Those experiencing these symptoms should isolate themselves from others and seek medical help as soon as possible