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Poloncarz, Burstein announce public health clinics to prevent hepatitis A outbreak

by jmaloni


Mon, Mar 23rd 2015 11:55 am

Confirmed case of hepatitis A in local restaurant worker

County executive, health commissioner outline precautionary public health clinics for response

On Sunday, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein to announce two precautionary public health clinics being held by the Erie County Department of Health in response to the recent identification of the hepatitis A virus in a local restaurant worker - a server at Casa di Pizza on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. The point-of-distribution clinics will allow ECDOH to provide post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent infection to individuals who may have been exposed.

"The county is activating these response clinics to ensure any dining room patron who may have been exposed to hepatitis A can speak to qualified health care professionals about their chance of being infected and receive an immunization shot if necessary. It is another example of how our Department of Health safeguards the public's health," Poloncarz said. "While the risk of transmission is low, anyone who may have dined at the restaurant during the time in question should check their immunization status and come to the clinics if necessary."

"Dine-in patrons of Casa-di-Pizza during a specific timeframe may have been exposed to hepatitis A virus," Burstein said. "Customers in the restaurant or banquet rooms are considered potentially exposed, not individuals who ordered take-out food or consumed food or drink from the bar.

"The risk of actually acquiring a hepatitis A infection from consuming food or drink at Casa-di-Pizza is extremely low. Persons who have already completed the hepatitis A vaccine series are not at risk of developing hepatitis A virus infection from this potential exposure."

Only persons who consumed food/drink within the Casa-di-Pizza restaurant are affected.

No take-out orders or bar food/drink are at risk.

The hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin is only effective within two weeks of exposure to the virus. Patrons who ate in Casa-di-Pizza restaurant or banquet room on the specified dates (and have not been previously vaccinated against hepatitis A) should receive the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin as soon as possible.

Point of distribution clinics

•Today, noon until 8 p.m.

•Tomorrow, 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Both at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, 153 Franklin St., Buffalo

Clinic pre-registration is encouraged at www.health.ny.gov/gotoclinic15 or attendees should bring a driver's license.

For additional information about hepatitis A and the point-of-distribution clinics, residents can call the Erie County information line at 716-858-2929 or visit http://www2.erie.gov/.

Post-exposure prophylaxis refers to trying to prevent or treat a disease after someone is exposed. Depending upon an individual's age and health status, PEP with either hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin is indicated. Hepatitis A vaccine is administered via an injection in the arm, and immune globulin is generally administered into a large muscle mass such as the upper leg or hip area.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. Hepatitis A appears only as an acute or a newly occurring infection and does not become a chronic disease. 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. It can be spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the virus.

Hepatitis A signs and symptoms typically do not appear until the individual has had the virus for a few weeks. These symptoms can be similar to those of a "flu-like" illness and may include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, abdominal pain or discomfort, dark urine, joint pain, clay-colored bowel movements, and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).

"The health risk to the citizens of Erie County is very low," Burstein said. "We are taking these actions with an abundance of caution to ensure the public health safety of our residents."

For more information:

•Erie County Department of Health: www.erie.gov/health

•New York State Department of Health: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/hepatitis/

•Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/A/aFAQ.htm

•Vaccine information sheet ("VIS"): http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hep-a.html

•Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-a/basics/definition/con-20022163


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