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Albania: Contaminated Tap Water Causes Hepatitis Outbreak

Tirana, 8 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Albania's Health Ministry said today that 111 children from a northern town have fallen ill during a lengthy outbreak of hepatitis A caused by contaminated tap water. The deputy mayor of Lac, Gjergj Roshi, said the water-distribution network in three quarters of the town is badly damaged.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Doreada Mio said the government had urged the residents of the town not to drink the water without boiling it first. But the outbreak, which began in November, is continuing, and the town wants the Education Ministry to close the city's schools and preschools to avoid a wider epidemic.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease with symptoms that include nausea, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain.