British Columbia Interior Health officials have issued a health alert Friday after a clinical case of Hepatitis A has been identified in a food handler at the Dairy Queen establishment in Clearwater located at 318 Eden Rd.
While Hepatitis A is uncommon in Interior Health, it is believed there is a low but definite risk to persons who ate food at this restaurant during the period this food handler was infectious.
To date, there have been no additional reported cases and Interior Health is taking immediate steps to ensure the safety of all staff and customers. Persons who consumed any foods or beverages from this Dairy Queen location during the following dates and times may have been exposed to Hepatitis A:
- Thursday, Dec. 8 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
- Friday, Dec. 9 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
- Saturday, Dec. 10 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Sunday, Dec. 11 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
- Thursday, Dec. 15 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Friday, Dec. 16 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
- Saturday, Dec. 17 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Sunday, Dec. 18 11 a.m. – 4 p.m
Hepatitis A is a disease that affects the liver and is caused by the Hepatitis A virus. The virus is found in the bowel movements (stool) of infected people. It can be spread through close personal contact or through contaminated food that has been handled by an infected person. The virus can get under nails and, despite thorough hand washing, can still contaminate food.
Symptoms usually develop 15 to 50 days after exposure and include nausea, abdominal cramps, fever, dark urine, and/or yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice). Illness can be more severe in adults over 50 years of age or those with chronic liver disease. Illness can last for several weeks and people generally recover completely. If you have symptoms, stay home from school and/or work. Frequent hand washing, especially after using the toilet and before handling food, remains the most effective way to avoid the spread of Hepatitis A infections.
Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent Hepatitis disease, but only if given within 14 days of exposure.
“We are advising anyone who may have been exposed to take the precaution of getting immunized,” said Dr. Sue Pollock, Medical Health Officer, Interior Health. “Hepatitis A is a serious infection and immunization is a proven and safe means of preventing illness.”
Interior Health will be providing vaccination clinics in Clearwater and Kamloops on the following dates. Please bring your immunization records with you to the clinic, if possible.
Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater:
- Friday, Dec. 23, 1-3 p.m.
- Saturday, Dec. 24 9 a.m. – noon
- Monday, Dec. 26, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Tuesday, Dec. 27, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m
The Public Health Unit in Kamloops, 519 Columbia St.:
- Friday, Dec. 23, 1-3 p.m.
- Saturday, Dec. 24, 9 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.
Outside these clinic dates and until Wednesday Dec. 28, individuals may obtain vaccine at the Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital emergency department in Clearwater or at the Royal Inland Hospital emergency department in Kamloops. After Dec. 28, please contact your local public health unit to access vaccine. Individuals living outside of Clearwater and Kamloops should also contact their local public health unit for information on where to access vaccine in their region.
If your exposure was more than 14 days ago, then vaccine will not be effective. Watch for signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A and, if these signs/symptoms occur, please see your family physician for testing. If you have had Hepatitis A infection in the past or have had two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine, then you are not at risk of infection.