News


May 28, 2003

Hepatitis A Update

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is reporting that the number of confirmed cases of hepatitis A in the city has now increased to 17 adults: 12 women and five men, ranging in age from 20 to 75.

All but two of the cases have been linked to a popular family restaurant in the south end of the city. One has no apparent connection; the second case is still under investigation. However, public health staff have not conclusively traced the source of the outbreak to either a member of the restaurant's staff or to a specific food item. There is no evidence at this time of ongoing transmission of the virus and public health's investigation into the outbreak continues.

It is believed infections occurred during the second and/or third week of April. In an attempt to limit and prevent further (i.e. secondary) infections, public health is asking that anyone who dined at the Tuxedo Village Restaurant between April 1 and mid-May who has recently displayed, or is currently displaying any symptoms of the disease see a doctor to get tested.

Symptoms of hepatitis A are fever, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort and severe fatigue followed by yellow skin and/or eyes (jaundice), pale stools and tea-coloured urine. A diagnosis of hepatitis A is confirmed by a blood test. This disease varies in severity from a mild illness lasting one to two weeks to a severely disabling disease lasting several months (rare). In general, severity increases with age, but complete recovery without after-effects or recurrences is the rule. Infections in children may be mild and without jaundice.

The restaurant's owners and staff have been extremely cooperative with the investigation and followed all extra precautionary instructions from public health staff. All of the restaurant's current food preparation staff have been tested for the virus and found to be negative or were previously immunized against the disease. Of the remaining staff, one tested positive but may have been infected at about the same time as the restaurant patrons. This person has not been, and is not involved in food preparation. Public health is awaiting test results from three current staff members, who are excluded from work pending receipt of the results. Three former staff members are being located and are being asked to be tested.

Contacts of all cases have been, or are being, offered hepatitis A vaccine in an attempt to prevent further spread of the illness.

Members of the public seeking more advice are asked to visit the WHRA's website www.wrha.mb.ca or call HealthLinks at 788-8200.

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