The Westchester County Department of Health reported Wednesday that a Aramark cafeteria employee working at Hommocks Middle School in Larchmont was diagnosed with hepatitis A, according to the Mamaroneck Union Free School District.

Hepatitis A Image/CDC
Hepatitis A Image/CDC

In a letter to parents from Dr. Robert I. Shaps, Superintendent of Schools, Westchester County Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD, has assured us that it is unlikely that anyone at the school would become ill as a result. They have informed us that the individual has not been in school for the past two weeks and is no longer symptomatic.

Shaps continues: The health and safety of our students and staff members is our highest priority. Our school nurses have been instructed to keep a watchful eye for any student or staff member who may exhibit symptoms.

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.

Dr. Shaps notes, If you/your child develop these symptoms anytime from today through April 23, please do not send them to school and immediately notify the school nurse.