Seen and heard: Hepatitis A exposure in Ontario

Line-ups usually seen at the Fergus curling club or Legion bar – not at the offices of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (below, exactly as shown). Following the report of a hepatitis A-positive cook at Marj’s, an Alma, Ontario (that’s in Canada) diner, public health officials have been busy issuing protective IgG shots to exposed patrons.

According to The Record, at least 600 shots were given Friday AM before supplies ran out. And an additional 150 when stock was replenished.B821841584Z.1_20150123191304_000_GGS1DL62B.2_Gallery

The shots are effective and reduce the risk of illnesses. Earlier this month, a similar exposure incident in New Jersey resulted in additional cases amongst folk who didn’t stand in line for shots.

“It’s unfortunate, really,” said Joanne Hall, a clerk of session at the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church down the street from the restaurant. “It’s a business, and something like this is not something you ask for. It can happen anywhere. As a small community we will support them, and help them get back on their feet.”

Anyone who dined at Marj’s between Jan. 2 and Jan. 20—the period when there was the highest likelihood of infection— was advised to get vaccinated to prevent infection.

Marj’s was closed on Friday, but not due to a public health order. Health officials inspected the premises on Thursday and cleared it. The restaurant’s owner, Keith Mclean, was not immediately available for comment. There were a number of people in the back of the diner Friday who appeared to be readying it for business. 

John Goforth lives just around the corner from Marj’s and eats there occasionally. He has not dined there this month and is not getting the vaccination.

“It’s a really good place, with good people and good food,” he said. “There was nothing they could do about this (except require vaccinations for their staff? -ben), and I hope it doesn’t hurt them. It’s been there forever, and it’s a great place.” 

“I think it was just a fluke,” Arsene Pick said Friday after getting the shot. He lives in Elora and dines occasionally at Marj’s. “It was just one of the cooks there that caught it and nobody knew. I hope it doesn’t hurt their business.”

Sharon Grose was in the outside lineup Friday. She said Marj’s is legendary in Alma, and is frequented by people from all around the town, especially in the farming community, and by travellers on their way to cottages further north. 

“This is a small price to pay to make sure you’re safe,” she said, speaking of waiting in the lineup for the vaccine. She had been waiting for about 40 minutes. “I don’t think this will hurt Marj’s. I hope not. They have a solid record for good food. This is just a matter of people being cautious.” 

Canadians are so nice.

Not taking hep A exposure seriously may have led to additional illness

Hamilton (NJ) Township health officer Jeff Plunkett held press conference on additional hepatitis A illnesses potentially linked to Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering today and the transcript was posted by the Times of Trenton.

Both individuals ate at the restaurant during the initial exposure window – one got an IgG shot (an employee of a spa), one did not (a fitness instructor at a local Y).


The biggest takeaway was this:

2:27 p.m.: The [yoga] instructor told Plunkett that she did not take the initial situation at Rosa’s seriously and did not get the vaccine.

Hep A is serious stuff.

Two additional cases of hepatitis A linked to Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering in Hamilton, NJ.

A big problem with hepatitis A is that a food handler can shed the virus for a month without showing symptoms – and an infected customer may not show symptoms for a few weeks either. An incident that looks like it is over can linger. According to Hamilton New Jersey health officials, the virus has spread from a food handler at Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering to a salon employee.

Here comes another round of IgG shots.gech_0001_0002_0_img0129

Hamilton officials confirmed two more cases of hepatitis A in the township a month after a food handler at Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering first contracted the virus.

Health officials were notified late Wednesday night by Robert Wood Johnson Hospital Hamilton and the state Department of Health that an employee of The Hair Port Salon on South Broad Street was diagnosed with hepatitis A. The employee has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home, officials said.

Staff and customers who visited the salon between Dec. 4 and Wednesday may be at risk of contracting the virus and should be vaccinated if they have not already done so, officials said.

In the second case, hepatitis A was confirmed Thursday in a fitness instructor at the Hamilton Area YMCA’s JKR branch on Whitehorse-Mercerville Road, officials said.

Officials confirmed that both individuals had eaten at or from Rosa’s during the first case, but could not say with certainty whether the two additional cases were a direct result. Just last week, township health officer Jeff Plunkett said the incubation period was set to end Jan. 11 and no new cases had emerged at the time.

Austin, TX Whataburger food handler diagnosed with hepatitis A

If I were a food business owner I’d be worried about hepatitis A. Individuals can shed the virus without showing symptoms and even a Hep A positive handwashing superstar will result in lineups outside the business or at the health department while patrons get their post-exposure shots.images-7
Authors of a 2000 Journal of Food Protection  paper on the cost effectiveness of vaccinating food handlers arrived at the conclusion that the public health benefit of vaccinating for hep A doesn’t equal the costs – but doesn’t factor in all the bad publicity, hassle and incident management costs.
According to KXAN, an Austin outlet of Whataburger the famed Texas fast food chain is going through the crisis stuff right now – and it will cost them business even without patrons getting sick.
Health officials are wanting to alert the public about possible hepatitis A exposure at a Whataburger in Central Austin. A restaurant employee there at the 2800 Guadalupe St. location has been diagnosed with the hepatitis A virus.
While health officials say transmission of the infection to customers is not likely, the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department is recommending people contact their doctor if they ate at that specific Whataburger between Aug. 7 and Tuesday and fit the following criteria:
  • are 75 years old or older
  • are immune-compromised
  • have chronic liver disease or have had a liver transplant
  • have clotting-factor disorders
  • are experiencing hepatitis A symptoms
A bit out of the norm; the usual public health response is to administer protective post-exposure IgG shots to all.