An outbreak of hepatitis A has been reported at Puerto Rico’s largest public hospital and it is believed the source of the outbreak is food from an unlicensed street vendor.
The San Juan based Centro Medico in Rio Piedras has seen at least 26 hepatitis A cases in hospital employees as of Wednesday. To date, no patients have been affected.
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.
Symptoms can begin 15 to 50 days after becoming infected. It is also possible to be infected and not have any symptoms. For symptomatic individuals, the severity of symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Common symptoms of hepatitis A include: Fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, dark urine, stomach pains and jaundice (yellowing of the skin).
There are no special treatments for Hepatitis A. 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.
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