Public Health Sudbury & Districts confirms case of hepatitis A at local grocery store: vaccination advised for someIssued: Monday, December 16, 2019
Update: Tuesday, December 17, 2019, Hepatitis A vaccination clinics being offered by Public Health Sudbury & Districts
Public Health Sudbury & Districts is issuing a community notice in the wake of a confirmed case of hepatitis A reported to Public Health on December 15, 2019.
The individual is an employee of the deli department at the Real Canadian Superstore located at 1485 Lasalle Boulevard in Sudbury, Ontario. Anyone who consumed clerk-served deli meat or cheese, or meat and cheese from prepared deli trays purchased from the store between November 27, 2019, and 1:30 p.m. December 16, 2019, could be at risk of hepatitis A infection.
Anyone who in the last 14 days consumed these food items—purchased between November 27 and 1:30 p.m. December 16—is strongly recommended to get vaccinated for hepatitis A. Individuals who ate the foods more than 14 days ago are advised to contact Public Health, monitor their health for signs and symptoms, and follow up with their health care provider if symptoms develop.
“We are in the process of securing a large supply of hepatitis A vaccine and will announce clinic dates and times for free vaccine as soon as possible,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Sudbury & Districts Medical Officer of Health. “The clinics will be for anyone who consumed the affected foods within 14 days prior to vaccination. I expect we will receive vaccine and run clinics later this week and times will be shared as soon as possible,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.
“Clerk-served” refers to food products that are offered for sale unpackaged and then packaged by a clerk upon request by the consumer (for example, deli meat for sale at the deli counter that is sliced and packaged by a clerk).
Any affected food that was purchased during this time period should be discarded or returned to the point of purchase. This food should not be eaten.
Free drop-in vaccination clinics will be offered, and dates, times, and locations will be announced once the vaccine supply is secured with updates posted on phsd.ca. No appointments will be required. Clinics will also be available throughout Public Health Sudbury & Districts’ service area.
Common symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, stomach pain or discomfort, dark urine, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, loss of appetite, clay or ash-coloured bowel movements, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
If you are concerned that you may have been infected with hepatitis A or if you have questions about getting the vaccine, contact Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200), or speak with your primary care provider as soon as possible.
Anyone who ate the food items during the time period should:
- verify their vaccination records, and if not vaccinated, contact Public Health
- monitor themselves for signs and symptoms of hepatitis A infection
- practise thorough handwashing
- contact their health care provider if concerned
Symptoms of hepatitis A can begin 15 to 50 days after becoming infected. It is also possible to be infected and not have any symptoms. For people with symptoms, the severity of symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Common symptoms of hepatitis A include:
- stomach pain or discomfort
- dark urine
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite
- clay or ash-coloured bowel movements
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
Hepatitis A is a virus that can cause a liver infection. Symptoms can last a few days to several months. The virus is rarely fatal and most people develop lifetime immunity following infection. Hepatitis A can be serious; especially, for older people and those with chronic liver disease. For these individuals, there is a greater risk of complications.
This virus is transmitted from person-to-person by the fecal-oral route. It is found in the feces and blood of a person infected with the virus, and one common route of exposure can be food contaminated by infected food handlers. This can occur by directly handling already cooked or ready-to-eat foods with unclean bare hands or through food contact with dirty gloves. It is also spread through close personal contact with an infected person, such as through having sex, caring for someone who is ill, or using drugs with others.
Hepatitis A can be avoided by:
- Not handling or preparing food for anyone if you are ill.
- Washing your hands often and thoroughly using soap and water. This is especially important after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing or eating food.
- If wearing gloves, change them often. Gloves cannot be washed and reused.
- Avoiding sharing common items such as cups and finger foods (for example, popcorn).
- Always washing fresh fruits and vegetables such as strawberries and lettuce.