Red Feather Lounge Patrons May Have Been Exposed to Hepatitis A

The Boise Health Department is warning Treasure Valley patrons about a confirmed case of Hepatitis A.  The warning comes after an employee at the Red Feather Lounge in downtown Boise was found to have the disease.   If you had something to eat or drink at the Red Feather between March 12th and the 17th, the health department recommends you get the vaccine.  The Central District Health Department has had so many calls about people’s potential exposure to Hepatitis A, that they are expanding their immunization clinic hours Wednesday.

Hepatitis-A Linked to Restaurant Worker

The Butler County Health Department urges patrons of a West Chester restaurant to watch for symptoms of Hepatitis A.  A worker at the P.F. Chang’s China Bistro on Union Centre Boulevard has been diagnosed with the illness.   The Butler County Board of Health issued the following release:

Butler County Health Department and the Ohio Department of Health have learned that a food service worker with confirmed Hepatitis A (infectious Hepatitis) worked while ill. Because of the possibility of contamination of ice, persons who have not been previously vaccinated for Hepatitis A and who report consuming ice, beverages with ice, ice cream or lemons or dined between March 14 and March 25, 2008 at this restaurant are recommended to contact their healthcare provider, local public health department or the Butler County Health Department for post-exposure prophylaxis.
People who dined at, consumed ice, beverages with ice, ice cream or lemons from the P.R Chang Restaurant between March 14 and March 25, 2008 should be referred to their healthcare provider, local public health department, or Butler County Department of Health for assessment and potential vaccination with monovalent Hepatitis A vaccine or prophylaxis with immune globulin (IG). The restaurant is located at 9435 Civic Centre Boulevard, West Chester, OH 45069 (off of the Civic Centre exit on Interstate 75 just north of Cincinnati, OH in eastern Butler County).

It seems that hardly a month passes without a warning from a health department somewhere that an infected food handler is the source of yet another potential hepatitis A outbreak.  Absent vaccinations of food handlers, combined with an effective and rigorous hand washing policy, there will continue to be more hepatitis A outbreaks.  It is time for health departments across the country to require vaccinations of foodservice workers, especially those that serve the very young and the elderly.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 83,000 cases of hepatitis A occur in the United States every year, and that many of these cases are related to food-borne transmission.   In 1999, over 10,000 people were hospitalized due to hepatitis A infections and 83 people died. In 2003, 650 people became sickened, 4 died and nearly 10,000 people got Ig shots after eating at a Pennsylvania restaurant.  Not only do customers get sick, but businesses lose customers or some simply go out of business.