Hepatitis outbreak closes schools, sends scores to hospital in Ukraine's Vinnytsia

FILE PHOTO: Vinnytsia

(Reuters) - Schools will move to an online regime starting Monday in Ukraine's central city of Vinnytsia after a Hepatitis A outbreak sent scores of children and adults to the hospital, the country's chief sanitary official said over the weekend.

"The main thing now is to establish the centre of the outbreak and the causes in order to stop the spread of the viral Hepatitis A among the population as soon as possible," Chief Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine Ihor Kuzin wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

Kuzin, who also serves as Ukraine's deputy health minister, said 141 people in the city and the region were in a hospital. Vinnytsia, which had a pre-war population of around 370,000, is the administrative centre of the Vinnytsia region in central Ukraine.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hepatitis A is a highly contagious, short-term liver infection that can be spread through close personal contact or eating contaminated food or drink.

People who get Hepatitis A may feel sick for a few weeks to several months but usually recover fully - unless they are in a higher risk group or have pre-existing health conditions.

"So far, there is no single cause of the outbreak," Kuzin said.

"We are analyzing the centers of spread and are working with the population, in particular to establish a circle of contact persons."

(Editing by Daniel Wallis)