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Berry scare spreads to SA schools

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The Department of Education and Child Development has been advised that nine South Australian schools and children’s  centres believe they may have fed children the frozen berries at the centre of a Hepatitis A scare.

Letters are being sent to parents of students from principals and directors to notify them of the possible risk and provide them with advice from SA Health.

The affected sites include four primary schools, one secondary school, one outside schools hours care centre and three children’s centres.

A spokesperson for Education and Child Development Minister Susan Close told InDaily in a statement that the schools and child care centres had told the department this week that they may have served children the frozen berries from potentially contaminated batches.

“While advice suggests that the infection risk is low, DECD facilities are rightly taking a cautious approach,” the spokesperson said.

“An alert has also being sent to all DECD schools, preschools, child care centres and Families SA facilities advising them to check their freezers and dispose of the  potentially contaminated products.

“DECD has a clear process for dealing with infectious diseases and has advised staff to follow the infection control procedures and keep a close eye out for children presenting with possible symptoms.”

Letters were sent to parents of children at four of the sites yesterday, and the remainder are being informed today.

InDaily can confirm the name of only one of the sites – the McKay Children’s Centre in Penola – as the department is waiting until parents have been notified before making public the names of the other schools and centres public.

The letter to parents of children at the McKay centre, from Director Jane Childs, reads, in part:

Dear Parents,

On Thursday 29th and Friday 30th of January this year, 35 children at McKay Children’s Centre in the childcare program had smoothies as part of their afternoon snack. The smoothies were made with frozen Creative Berries mixed berry pack. These berries have subsequently been nationally recalled due to some people developing Hepatitis A after eating them.

Your child may have been exposed to this risk. Sally Skeer, the Assistant Director in childcare has been in contact with the hotline 1800 650 069 and has attached a fact sheet regarding Hepatitis A symptoms to this letter. Sally has also contacted the Penola Medical Centre to notify the doctor that local families may have some concerns and may present at the Medical Centre.

The childcare staff have done a risk assessment in regards to preventing any further risk. Hygiene practises will be increased over the next 2 months, whilst we are still in the incubation period of a possible illness.

The department has written to all schools warning them to check for the recalled  berries.

The department has written to all schools warning them to check for the recalled berries.

Yesterday, the Victorian company Patties Foods added Nanna’s Raspberries 1kg packs to its consumer recall list, following fears of possible hepatitis A contamination.

SA Health is urging South Australians to see their doctor should symptoms of Hepatitus A develop.

Symptoms include yellow eyes or skin, abdominal pain, nausea, fever and chills.

Nine adults have so far contracted the virus after eating frozen mixed berries, including three in Victoria, two in New South Wales and four in Queensland.

The Queensland Health department said it was unclear whether one of those diagnosed consumed the suspect berries.

Today, the first case of hepatitis A in Western Australia believed to be related to contaminated frozen berries has been confirmed.

A Department of Health spokesman said the case was related to the Nannas brand.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that there were 10 centres involved. This information was provided to InDaily by the Minister’s office and later corrected by the Department.

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