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Confirmed hep A case prompts public alert in local area

March 22, 2018

EDMONTON – Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Covenant Health have confirmed a case of hepatitis A in a food handler working in the cafeteria of the Grey Nuns Community Hospital (1100 Youville Dr N.W.).

Patients, visitors and staff who consumed food from the cafeteria between Feb. 26 and March 10, 2018 and March 13 to 18, 2018 (inclusive); or, inpatients who ate food delivered to their rooms on Feb. 26 and 27, or March 1, 3, 4, 7 and 15 may have been exposed to hepatitis A.

“While we believe the risk to the public is low, hepatitis A is a serious infection,” says Dr. Jasmine Hasselback, Medical Officer of Health for AHS – Edmonton Zone.

“As a precaution, anyone who consumed food or drink from the cafeteria is advised to monitor themselves and their family for symptoms for 50 days after their last exposure which may be up to and including May 7, 2018.”

“We are working closely with AHS to support our patients and our staff, physicians and volunteers at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital to address their concerns and respond to this situation,” says Karen Macmillan, Senior Operating Officer, Grey Nuns Community Hospital.

“We have an action plan for the site and are committed to the ongoing health and safety of our workplace and our care environment.”

There is no ongoing risk of infection associated with the cafeteria. It has been cleaned, inspected, and approved as safe to operate by AHS Environmental Public Health inspectors.

Hepatitis A immunization provided after an exposure can often prevent illness from occurring, but only if it is provided within two weeks since the last exposure.

A Hepatitis A immunization clinic will be held in Edmonton on March 23 to 29.

People who consumed food from the Grey Nuns cafeteria between Feb. 26 and March 10, 2018 and March 13 to18, 2018 (inclusive); or, inpatients who ate food delivered to their rooms on Feb. 26 and 27 or March 1, 3, 4, 7 and 15 should call Health Link (811) for assessment of exposure date and risk, and will be given information regarding the clinics as needed.

Immunizations will be offered only to individuals who consumed food from the cafeteria March 9 and 10, and between March 13 and 18, 2018 and to inpatients who ate food delivered to their rooms on March 15, 2018.

Providing immunization to people who consumed food from the cafeteria or had food delivered to their rooms before March 9, 2018 will not add any extra protection against illness due to this exposure and those individuals are asked to monitor themselves for symptoms.

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. Spread through the fecal-oral route, individuals primarily contract hepatitis A through direct contact with an infected person; however individuals can also contract the illness indirectly by ingestion of contaminated food or water.

If an infected individual does not properly wash his/her hands after using the washroom, the virus can be transmitted through food and beverages prepared by the infected individual.

Illness can occur within 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus, but usually does within 28 to 30 days. Individuals can be infectious one to two weeks before symptoms occur up to at least one week after the onset of illness.

Symptoms of hepatitis A may include: tiredness; poor appetite; nausea and vomiting; abdominal pain and fever; followed by dark-coloured urine, light-coloured stools, and yellowing of eyes and skin several days later. Some people, especially young children, may get hepatitis A infection without noticing any symptoms; however, they are still infectious to others.

Individuals who develop such symptoms between now and May 7, 2018, are advised to contact Health Link at 811 immediately.

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A, but it can be prevented through immunization.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

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Hepatitis A - More Information

For media inquiries, contact:

Kerry Williamson
AHS Communications
780-905-5890

Jacqueline Janelle
Covenant Health Communications
780-394-7027