Mett and raw sausages: hepatitis E infections from eating pork

Hepatitis E from Mett, raw sausage and Co: experts warn of raw pork
The number of hepatitis E infections in Germany is growing rapidly. In many cases, the reason for the infection is the consumption of infected pork. Experts therefore warn against the consumption of raw meat products such as Mett or minced meat. The pathogens can be killed by sufficient heating.

Raw pork as a major source of transmission
For a long time, hepatitis E was considered an infectious disease introduced from Asia and Africa, which is mainly transmitted through contaminated drinking water. But in recent years, more and more infected patients in Germany have been reported. In Germany, foods containing raw pork are considered one of the main sources of transmission. Consumers should therefore be cautious when it comes to dishes such as liver sausage, salami or minced meat.

Experts warn of eating certain foods
Even if many find it disgusting: Mettbrötchen, Hackepeter and Co are regularly on the table for many Germans. But eating products that contain raw pork can obviously make you sick. For example, experts warn that eating such food threatens hepatitis E infections. According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), almost every second pig in Germany is said to be infected with hepatitis E. The animals carry the virus within themselves, but show no symptoms. However, through direct contact, but also through food made from pork, the hepatitis E virus (HEV) can spread to humans and cause acute inflammation of the liver.

Infection numbers almost doubled
The numbers of new cases are worrying. While there were still 670 infected in 2014, 1,246 cases were registered last year. According to the information, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the BfR had consistently low infection numbers until 2009, between 40 and 130 cases annually. The consumer protection organization "foodwatch" criticized in a message that the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) has so far refused to fight the virus in the barn. A spokeswoman for the ministry said that there were "no concrete plans" and referred to the BfR, which advises consumers to adhere to strict hygiene measures.

Reduce risk of infection by fully heating
The BfR experts write on their website: “Consumers can significantly reduce the risk of HEV infection by heating the food evenly and completely by cooking or roasting. Briefly boiling or heating in the microwave is insufficient because HEV is relatively heat-stable. Even the freezing of food does not have a killing effect on the viruses. ”Those who want to minimize the risk of an HEV infection should, according to the experts,“ avoid eating raw meat products such as Mett and short-aged raw sausages (e.g. fresh Mettwurst) ". This recommendation applies in particular to particularly sensitive groups such as immunocompromised people, patients with previous liver damage and pregnant women.

Patients often do not notice their illness
The problem with the disease, like other forms of hepatitis, is that patients often do not know about their liver inflammation. Infection often goes unnoticed. The symptoms of the disease, which only appear after weeks, include flu-like symptoms such as fever, nausea and vomiting, or dark urine. Later jaundice and upper abdominal pain often occur, although the former does not occur in all patients. In most cases, the disease heals after several days or weeks, but the infection can even become life-threatening for people from risk groups. (ad)

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