The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) has identified a case of acute hepatitis A virus infection in a Saco food service worker.
The individual handled food at Saco House of Pizza in Saco while infectious from August 5, 2020, through August 21, 2020. While this employee was not in charge of preparing food, the individual had access to food in the kitchen.
Maine CDC’s assessment of the employee’s illness determined that restaurant patrons and employees may be at risk for hepatitis A infection. Out of an abundance of caution, Maine CDC recommends that anyone who may have eaten food prepared at Saco House of Pizza or worked at the restaurant from August 18, 2020, through August 21, 2020, promptly receive hepatitis A vaccine, as there is a 14-day window during which prophylaxis is effective after exposure. This includes anyone who may have had take-out, delivery, or curbside pickup of food from the restaurant.
Anyone who visited the restaurant from August 5, 2020, through August 17, 2020, is outside the timeframe for which prophylaxis is recommended but should watch for symptoms and seek medical attention if symptoms develop. Individuals with compromised immune systems or children younger than one year old who visited the restaurant during this time may benefit from hepatitis A immune globulin (IG), upon consultation with their health care providers.
The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms range from mild illness to a severe sickness that requires hospitalization and can last several months. Most adults with hepatitis A have a sudden onset of symptoms such as tiredness, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, dark urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Most children younger than 6 years old do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection.
Hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated food or water, especially in food prepared by a person who is infected. Symptoms begin to show 15-50 days after exposure to the virus. An infected person can spread the virus to others from approximately two weeks before symptoms start until one week after symptoms end.
Health care providers are encouraged to remain vigilant for hepatitis A infection in persons with consistent symptoms.