Health

Possible Hepatitis A Exposure at Area Work Center

An individual who attended a recent La Mesa Work Center event has been diagnosed with the Hepatitis A virus the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced today. Health officials are investigating how the individual may have contracted the virus.

The person may have exposed others at an event held at the center on May 17.  The adult day care facility is at 6134 University Avenue in San Diego. Everyone who attended the event is being notified of the potential exposure.

 “The risk is low, but anyone who was at the event should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., deputy county public health officer. “Anyone who has been immunized with Hepatitis A vaccine or previously had the disease is considered protected from the virus.” 

Individuals who may have been exposed and have not had the vaccine should contact their health care provider to discuss options for prevention. Potentially exposed individuals without a provider may contact the HHSA Epidemiology Program at (619) 692-8499 to determine the need for vaccination.

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 more severe cases lasting four to six 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.

Hepatitis A vaccine is the preferred preventive treatment for healthy persons from 12 months to 40 years old, and may be considered in older patients because it provides long-term protection. Hepatitis immune globulin may be used for those under 12 months, those over 40 and those who are immune compromised or have chronic liver disease.  

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 if they have been in close and continuous contact with an infected person, particularly in a household.  Careful hand washing and getting vaccinated are important ways to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A.

For more information about Hepatitis A, call the HHSA Epidemiology Program at (619) 692-8499, or search for “Hepatitis A” on http://www.cdc.gov.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact