Number of hepatitis A patients rises to more than 460 in western Russia

The number of people suffering from an acute liver disease in western Russia jumped by more than 100, Russian news reports said Saturday, as a hepatitis A epidemic continues to spread.

More than 460 people in the Tver region and neighboring areas are now suffering from the virus, the Interfax news agency said, citing regional health officials.

But Vladislav Ivanov, the head doctor of the district hospital in Rzhev near Tver, denied a sharp increase in the number of new patients.

"We can see that the stabilization has peaked and we expect a decrease in a day or two. We hope for that," Ivanov said in televised comments.

Epidemiologists were centering their investigation on alcohol-free drinks produced by a local brewery, with reports saying lemonade or kvas, a traditional drink made from fermented bread, could be to blame.

Hepatitis A is transmitted through food or water and is often spread due to poor sanitary or personal hygiene practices.

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