Fraser public health officials will be holding a hepatitis A immunization clinic today at the North Ridge Elementary School gymnasium after reports of an unspecified number of cases of the viral disease at the Surrey primary school.

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British Columbia

Fraser Health says because students and staff may have been exposed, they are recommending that all students and staff: be aware and get testing if you have symptoms of hepatitis A and receive a hepatitis A vaccine from Public Health to prevent illness.

A letter was sent to parents Friday concerning this health issue.

Public health officials call the move proactive as transmission may have occurred within the school setting. Because of ongoing spread in the school, some students and staff may already be ill, or develop symptoms over the next 6 weeks depending on when they were exposed.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by a virus found in the stool or vomit of an infected person. It is spread when a person eats food or drinks water that has come in contact with infected stool or vomit. Symptoms may develop 15-50 days after initial infection and include loss of appetite, fever, sore muscles, nausea, vomiting, pain on the right side of the belly under the rib cage, jaundice (in severe cases), dark colored urine and light or clay-colored stool.

Children tend to have more mild illness than adults; very young children may have no symptoms at all. In almost all cases, Hepatitis A goes away on its own. Illness can be prevented by practicing proper hand hygiene and always washing hands thoroughly with warm water and soap after using the washroom and before eating.

A safe and effective Hepatitis A vaccine is available which reduces the risk of illness provided vaccination is received within 14 days of coming into contact with the virus.