With the current outbreak in the Louisville area, no cases of hepatitis A has been contracted to the public from the positive confirmed cases of food service workers.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Although rare, hepatitis A can cause death in some people. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.
The contagious period begins one to two weeks before symptoms appear, and is minimal about one week after the onset of jaundice. Food workers should be excluded from work for at least two weeks after the onset of clinical symptoms of hepatitis A. If jaundiced, food workers should not return to work for at least one week after onset of jaundice. The probability of a food service worker spreading the virus is low, but still must be excluded from work.
Older children and adults typically have symptoms. If symptoms develop, they can appear abruptly and can include:
Yes, the hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective in preventing hepatitis A virus infection. A second hepatitis A shot results in long-term protection.
Yes, the hepatitis A vaccine is safe. No serious side effects have been reported from the hepatitis A vaccine. Soreness at the injection site is the most common side effect reported. As with any medicine, there is always a small risk that a serious problem could occur after someone gets the vaccine. However, the potential risks associated with hepatitis A are much greater than the potential risks associated with the hepatitis A vaccine. Since the licensure of the first hepatitis A vaccine in 1995, millions of doses of hepatitis A vaccine have been given in the United States and worldwide.