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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The Pennsylvania Department of Health has issued a Hepatitis A advisory to people who may have eaten at the Beaver Valley Chi-Chi's restaurant, 600 Beaver Valley Mall, Monaca, Beaver County, during the month of October through Nov. 2.
The Health Department was notified that at least 12 restaurant employees and at least 10 patrons likely have been infected, based on their symptoms. For eight of the ill persons, laboratory tests confirmed that they have hepatitis A.
Because of the possibility the disease may have been transmitted to patrons, the Health Department is recommending that individuals who ate at the restaurant within the past 14 days receive an injection of immune globulin, an antibody treatment that will greatly lessen the chances of acquiring the disease. The immune globulin only is useful if given within 14 days after exposure. People who ate at the restaurant before Oct. 22 will not benefit from immune globulin, but should remain alert to the development of hepatitis A.
People who ate at the restaurant from Oct. 22 through Nov. 2 should receive the injection. The Department of Health will hold a clinic at the Beaver County Community College (The Dome), 1 Campus Drive, Monaca, to provide immune globulin injections to the public on Wednesday, Nov. 5; Thursday, Nov. 6; and Friday, Nov. 7. The clinic will be held from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. People who previously were vaccinated against hepatitis A or those who had a hepatitis A infection in the past are not at risk and do not need an injection.
The hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of people with hepatitis A. It is spread from person to person by putting anything in the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool containing hepatitis A. The virus is easily spread in areas where there is poor sanitation or poor personal hygiene.
Food items presenting the highest risk are salads, sandwiches and other items such as nachos that often involve food-handler contact and then are not cooked. A person who has hepatitis A can accidentally pass the virus to others within the same household. Good personal hygiene and proper sanitation can help prevent hepatitis A.
People who develop hepatitis A almost always recover from the illness without further complications. People may experience a range of symptoms, including fever, tiredness, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and jaundice and a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes. The disease may appear suddenly and last from one to several weeks. People who develop jaundice from hepatitis A are typically infectious for two weeks before and one week after jaundice begins.
People experiencing symptoms or who feel they are at risk should contact their family physician. Physicians are reminded that confirmed or suspected hepatitis A is a reportable condition.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health