Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hepatitis A in the News

You may have heard about a recent outbreak of Hepatitis A associated with a frozen berry product. This kind of news often leaves people with questions and concerns.  Let us know in the comments if there is any other information that we can provide – thanks for reading!
What is Hepatitis A? Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver caused by a virus.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis A? Fatigue, fever, nausea, diarrhea, dark urine, clay colored bowel movements, joint pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin). Symptoms can appear within 15 – 50 days after exposure.
How can Hepatitis A contaminate food? Hepatitis A can contaminate food when fecal matter from a person with the virus gets onto the food. This can happen when a person preparing food does not properly wash their hands, in places where access to clean drinking water is not available for hand washing, or when food is washed in contaminated water.
How can the spread of Hepatitis A be prevented? The best way to prevent the spread of germs is by washing hands with soap and water carefully for at least 20 seconds. Hands should be washed before and after preparing food, after using the bathroom, after coming inside, after changing diapers and as frequently as possible when sick or caring for someone who is sick. Anyone with symptoms should avoid preparing food for others and stay home from work until symptoms are gone.
Who is at risk for Hepatitis A? Those who have come in contact with the Hepatitis A virus and who have not been vaccinated or have not had the disease before. Here is a link to Thurston County Public Health’s Immunization Services website.
Thurston County Environmental Health Division’s Food Safety Program conducts periodic inspections of food establishments to help prevent the spread and reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses. Violations are corrected through a combination of education and technical assistance.
Washing hands and cleanliness are key components of food safety in our restaurants and at home.

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