Anyone who may have eaten at a College Avenue McDonald’s on August 25, 26, 27 and 30 is being advised by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) that they may have been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus.
This McDonald’s restaurant is inside the Walmart store on 3412 College Ave. in San Diego. People who ate at the restaurant between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. on those days may have been exposed.
“We encourage anyone who has not had the Hepatitis A vaccine and those who may have been exposed to contact their health care provider,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer.
Walmart shoppers who did not eat at the restaurant are not at risk for exposure to the virus.
The early signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A appear two to seven weeks after exposure and commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, light color stools, pain in the upper right abdomen, and yellowness to the eyes or skin (jaundice).
Hepatitis A varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and in more severe cases lasting four to seven weeks or longer. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice or any symptom at all. However, even mildly ill people can still be highly infectious and should consult a physician.
“The risk to the public is low, but anyone who ate at the restaurant on those dates and times should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A,” said Wooten. “Anyone who has been immunized with the Hepatitis A vaccine or previously had the disease is considered protected from the virus.”
Because the spread to patrons is unlikely, the California Department of Public Health does not routinely recommend immunization after a restaurant customer has been exposed to the virus. However, patrons who have not been previously immunized for Hepatitis A should consider getting the vaccine no later than two weeks after exposure. The Hepatitis A vaccine is the preferred preventive treatment for healthy persons from 12 months to 40 years old. Either Hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin may be used for those 41 to 59 years of age. The immune globulin is preferred for those 60 years of age and older, those less than 12 months of age, and those at any age who are immune compromised or have chronic liver disease.
Individuals can obtain Hepatitis A immunizations through their primary care physicians. Anyone who was exposed to the virus but is not covered by a medical insurance plan, and wants to be evaluated for Hepatitis A may go to the HHSA Central Region Public Health Center at 5202 University Avenue in San Diego, where vaccinations will be given for minimal or no cost. A special clinic at this location will be held on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to provide Hepatitis A immunizations.
Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter – even microscopic amounts – from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by an infected person. People are at increased risk of getting Hepatitis A when they have been in close and continuous contact with an infected individual, particularly in a household. Careful hand washing is the key to preventing the spread of Hepatitis A.
For more information about Hepatitis A call the HHSA Epidemiology Program at (619) 692-8499, or visit the CDC Hepatitis web page.