Clubs warned of hepatitis threat
Widespread screening advised after player tests positive for virus
Last Updated: September 5, 2012 6:49pm
Super League clubs are being advised to screen their players for hepatitis B after an unnamed player was diagnosed with the virus.
All 14 clubs held meetings with their senior squads on Wednesday after being informed of the news by the Rugby Football League, who said the screening is a precaution against possible transmission of the virus.
The RFL say the player, who is not being named due to medical confidentiality, has not played or trained since his diagnosis and is being provided with expert medical treatment and support.
The spokesman added: "There has never been a known case of transmission of the hepatitis B virus in any contact sport but, following advice from chief medical officer professor, Chris Brookes, the RFL has issued its advisory to clubs to provide peace of mind to all players and key personnel.
"A factsheet with FAQs on hepatitis B has also been produced for players and clubs."
Hepatitis B is relatively rare in England and the last known Super League player to contract the virus was Wigan's former New Zealand captain Quentin Pongia in 2004.
According to the NHS website, those most at risk of contracting hepatitis B include people who inject drugs.
The vast majority of people infected with hepatitis B are able to fight off the virus and fully recover within a couple of months but a small minority, around 5 percent, go on to develop cirrhosis of the liver and in some cases liver cancer.
There is a vaccine that is thought to be 95 percent effective in preventing hepatitis B and all players are advised to undergo vaccination in the guide issued to them at the start of each season, although the RFL spokesman said it was not possible to estimate how many acted on the recommendation.