Hepatitis A Virus in Molluscs

Hepatitis A Virus is primarily spread when an uninfected and unvaccinated person ingests food or water that is contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. The disease is closely associated with unsafe water or food, inadequate sanitation and poor personal hygiene. When you are infected with Hepatitis A virus, you might experience some rather unpleasant symptoms. These include fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark-coloured urine and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes). Not everyone who is infected will have all of the symptoms.
One of the places you might venture into quite frequently when you have diarrhoea is the toilet. In several countries faeces still is led untreated into the sea. So, the question is therefore, is Hepatitis A Virus able to infect (edible) molluscs.

Scientists studied of a total of 352 samples, including four bivalve mollusc species, the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis), the European razor clam (Solen vagina), the striped venus clam (Venus gallina) and the abrupt wedge shell (Donax trunculus). Hepatitis A Virus was detected in 77 samples[1]. All of these molluscs are consumed in the Mediterranean.

If you like to eat your molluscs raw, you should be aware that you could become infected with Hepatitis A Virus.

[1] Suffredini et al: Occurrence and Trend of Hepatitis A Virus in Bivalve Molluscs Production Areas Following a Contamination Event in Food and Environmental Virology - 2017

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