Public Health is investigating a cluster of confirmed Hepatitis A cases associated with two child care centres in the Halifax area. The source of infection has not been determined at this time.
Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, Medical Officer of Health, Nova Scotia Health Authority, said the focus right now is on identifying potential additional cases in children, families and staff of Kids & Company in Hammonds Plains and Grace Note Child Care Centre in Halifax, and vaccinating those who could benefit from it.
“Hepatitis A is a viral disease that is spread person to person, and as such poses low risk to the general public, and to children and others outside of an affected facility,” she said. “Both child care centres have been extremely cooperative and supportive, helping us reach their attendees’ families and distributing information to them.”
Public Health has begun to contact potentially impacted families to determine if any family members may have had symptoms of the virus. Hepatitis A vaccine is often used to prevent illness in persons who may have been exposed to the disease, and so impacted families and staff will be offered the vaccine as well, at no cost.
The child care centres are also working with Nova Scotia Environment and the Department of Education and Early Child Development regarding standard environmental cleaning procedures that are implemented in situations like this, as well as looking at any extra precautions that can be taken to prevent the further spread of Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A is a viral illness that is often mild and resolves on its own; however, in some cases, it may cause serious liver damage. Unlike Hepatitis B and C, Hepatitis A is not transmitted through blood and does not produce long-term (chronic) infections. When someone is infected with Hepatitis A it can take a few weeks for the illness to run its course, and the person is immune from the disease after that.
In the cases that have been confirmed, the individuals have been treated and are recovering.