August 30, 2013
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) is investigating a second case of hepatitis A in a food service employee who worked at the Covered Bridge Restaurant in Contoocook, NH. DHHS’ Division of Public Health Services estimates between 100 and 200 people might have been exposed to the illness.
"We have learned that a second case of hepatitis A in a food service worker has developed,” said NH’s Public Health Director Dr. José Montero. “This case is linked to the previous food service worker. I want to assure everyone that all the necessary public health steps were taken to prevent any additional cases. I would like to once again remind everyone how important proper hygiene is in preventing illness especially in the food service industry. Once again, we do believe the risk of exposure is extremely low, but we are working to identify anyone who may be at risk so that they can receive prophylaxis.”
Though there is no cure for hepatitis A, there is a vaccine and immune globulin can help prevent someone who has been exposed from getting sick if administered within two weeks of the exposure. Anyone up to the age of 40 can receive the vaccine. Anyone over 40 and under 12 months is recommended to receive immune globulin (an antibody preparation). Hepatitis A vaccination provides protection before a person is exposed to the virus. The sooner someone receives the vaccine after exposure the more effective the vaccine is. The infected food service worker, worked at the Covered Bridge Restaurant on August 13th and 20th. If you were at the Covered Bridge Restaurant on August 13th, it is too late for you to receive prophylaxis but you should be alert to potential symptoms of hepatitis A. If you were at the Covered Bridge Restaurant on August 20th DPHS is recommending you receive either the vaccine or immune globulin at this time. If you have previously been vaccinated or if you have had hepatitis A infection you do not need any further vaccine for this situation.
DPHS is working with the Capital Area Public Health Network to offer vaccination clinics for anyone who may have been exposed to the virus. Those will be held tonight, Friday, August 30th from 5pm - 8pm and Saturday, August 31st from 9am - 12pm. Clinics will be held at the Bow High School, 32 White Rock Hill Rd., Bow, NH.
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 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.
The New England Poison Control Center has been activated to assist with answering questions from the public about hepatitis A and the upcoming clinics. That # is: 1-800-562-8236.