Friday, April 11, 2014

Pizza worker diagnosed with Hepatitis A potentially exposes thousands to the virus

A North Carolina Papa John's foodservice worker was diagnosed with Hepatitis A, this after he worked for about 2 weeks.  During that time, some 2,400 orders were placed (at 4 people per pie, and each order was at least one pie, that could potentially mean about 10,000 people have been exposed).

There is a long delay from the time someone who is exposed with Hepatitis A until they see symptoms.  And in this case, it took even longer from the time he had symptoms until the time he was diagnosed.

This worker had traveled overseas and probably contracted the disease during that trip.

It is important for those who have been exposed to get vaccinated, especially those who are more susceptible.

A few interesting notes form the CDC website.
  • Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces, or stool, of an infected person.
  • If you were recently exposed to Hepatitis A virus and have not been vaccinated against Hepatitis A, you might benefit from an injection of either immune globulin or Hepatitis A vaccine. However, the vaccine or immune globulin must be given within the first 2 weeks after exposure to be effective.
  • The Hepatitis A virus is extremely hearty. It is able to survive the body’s highly acidic digestive tract and can live outside the body for months. High temperatures, such as boiling or cooking food or liquids for at least 1 minute at 185°F (85°C), kill the virus, although freezing temperatures do not.
  • Some people get Hepatitis A and have no symptoms of the disease. Adults are more likely to have symptoms than children.   If symptoms occur, they usually appear anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after exposure.  Symptoms usually develop over a period of several days. Symptoms usually last less than 2 months, although some people can be ill for as long as 6 months.
  • Almost all people who get Hepatitis A recover completely and do not have any lasting liver damage, although they may feel sick for months. Hepatitis A can sometimes cause liver failure and death, although this is rare and occurs more commonly in persons 50 years of age or older and persons with other liver diseases, such as Hepatitis B or C.
  • There are no special treatments for Hepatitis A. Most people with Hepatitis A will feel sick for a few months before they begin to feel better. A few people will need to be hospitalized. During this time, doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids.  Alcohol [unfortunately] should be avoided.
  • Anyone traveling to or working in countries with high rates of Hepatitis A should talk to a health professional about getting vaccinated. Hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective in preventing Hepatitis A virus infection. Protection begins approximately 2 to 4 weeks after the first injection. A second injection results in long-term protection.
Charlotte Observer

Officials: Mecklenburg Papa John’s worker contracted hepatitis A
By Karen Garloch The Charlotte Observer
Posted: Thursday, Apr. 10, 2014
Modified: Thursday, Apr. 10, 2014

Mecklenburg County health officials are urging customers who ate food from a Papa John’s restaurant in the northeast part of the county from March 28 to April 7 to get a hepatitis A vaccine.

A worker at the restaurant, at 8016 Cambridge Commons Drive, became ill March 24 but wasn’t diagnosed until April 7 after he was hospitalized. The Health Department learned of his illness Wednesday, according to Health Director Dr. Marcus Plescia.

Plescia said the vaccine works when given within 14 days of exposure, so he said people who may have been exposed before March 28 would not benefit. He said anyone who ate at this Papa John’s location from March 24 to March 28 should watch for symptoms of infection, such as nausea, vomiting and jaundice, which would cause yellowing of the eyes and skin.

“If somebody has symptoms, particularly if they develop jaundice, those people should really seek medical care,” Plescia said.

For others who may have been exposed, free vaccines will be offered at a special clinic from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Mecklenburg County Health Department, 2845 Beatties Ford Road. Another free vaccine clinic will be held Saturday, in conjunction with Cabarrus County health officials, at a location to be announced.

Plescia said most children get a hepatitis A vaccine when they’re 1-year-old. That has been a recommendation for about eight years, so many children will be OK, he said. Adults who have had hepatitis A or had the vaccine in the past are protected, Plescia said. But the vaccine is recommended for other adults who think they may have been exposed.

About 2,400 food orders may have been served during the time that the Papa John’s worker was infected and before he was diagnosed. Plescia said the two counties will have about 5,000 doses of vaccine available.

The Papa John’s restaurant remains open, and officials there have been cooperating with the Health Department, Plescia said. He added that the location has a good inspection record. The infected worker had been traveling outside the country and may have become infected by eating contaminated food, Plescia said.

“We don’t want to create undue anxiety,” Plescia said. “Hepatitis A is generally not life-threatening. … But you can feel sick for several weeks. ... If you ate pizza from that Papa John’s between March 28 and April 7, you should consider being vaccinated for hepatitis A.”

1 comment:

  1. Hepatitis is a very harmful and sometime it leads to death. So, it is very important to have health safety environment to avoid health related issues.

    Arnold Brame
    Health and Safety Training