August 15, 2013
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) has completed the investigation into and response to a case of hepatitis A in a food service worker. The adult from Hillsborough County worked at two locations in Contoocook, the Covered Bridge Restaurant and the American Legion. A total of 1,114 people received prophylaxis, either vaccine or immune globulin, as a result of potential exposure at two recently held clinics.
"This was a quick and thorough response to a public health incident and I want to thank everyone involved for all their hard work and commitment to the people of New Hampshire,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “Unfortunately practice makes perfect and we have been through events like this before so overall things went very well, but it was still a huge undertaking. I want to extend my appreciation to all the local responders, the Capital Area Public Health Network, the management of the Covered Bridge Restaurant and the American Legion, the employees of DHHS who worked on this outbreak, the Northern New England Poison Control Center, and everyone else who helped out for their professionalism and dedication."
Those people who were at either of the establishments between July 20th and August 3rd have been recommended to receive either the vaccine or immune globulin. If you fall into this category but did not attend either of the clinics and have not previously been vaccinated for hepatitis A, you should contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. If you may have been exposed but do not have health insurance, you can attend a Community Health Clinic, a list of which is available at http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/hepatitisa/index.htm.
Hepatitis A is a virus that causes liver disease which sometimes requires hospitalization. It’s spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of a person with hepatitis A. It can also be spread by sharing utensils or by sexual contact. Symptoms usually come on quickly and may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes.) People who develop hepatitis A almost always recover from the illness without further complications.
“This is a good time to remind people that personal hygiene is critical in protecting us from foodborne illness,” said Montero. “Hand washing is the most important step we should all take but also not touching ready-to-eat food with bare hands is a state rule for food service workers. If you are sick, stay home from work to avoid giving your illness, hepatitis A or anything else, to others. These are good practices we should all be following.”
New England Poison Control Center activated to assist with answering questions from the public about hepatitis A and the upcoming clinics, but any further calls should now go the DPHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496. To make a report about a food service establishment, call the DPHS Food Protection Section at 603-271-4589.