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Hepatitis A contracted by 3 people in SLO County after catered event, health officials say

Posted at 11:07 AM, Jun 07, 2019

San Luis Obispo County health officials have confirmed three adult residents of the county contracted Hepatitis A after a private catered event in early May.

Hepatitis A is a virus that infects the liver, causing flu-like symptoms. It can be spread through contaminated food or water, as well as drug use.

The SLO Public Health Department said Friday that the three people who contracted the virus were sickened following a private catered event May 3. The cases appear to be linked to a single common source, according to the health department, and it does not appear to be connected to any of the statewide outbreaks involving illicit drug use.

“Hepatitis A can cause serious illness,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, the County Health Officer. “It’s important to remember this illness can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.”

Health officials do not believe the public is at risk.

No information was released about where the catered event occurred or which company provided the food and drink. However, health officials said they were contacting anyone who may have been exposed and that the patients, event organizers and caterers were all cooperating with the health department’s investigation.

There was one case of hepatitis A diagnosed in SLO County in 2017 and 2018.

For adults and children over age six, signs and symptoms usually start suddenly and include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Yellow skin or eyes (more than 70% of adults with hepatitis A have this symptom, called jaundice)
  • Dark urine or light-colored stools
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain

If you experience these signs and symptoms, contact your regular health care provider. The Public Health Department is actively contacting people who should be especially alert for signs and symptoms.