About Hepatitis

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About Hepatitis Blog

Since 2016, the US has seen 44,760 Hepatitis A cases with 27,327 hospitalizations and 426 deaths

According to the CDC, when hearing about hepatitis A, many people think about contaminated food and water. However, in the United States, hepatitis A is more commonly spread from person to person. Since March 2017, CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) has been assisting multiple state and local health departments with hepatitis A outbreaks, spread through person-to-person contact.

Famous Anthony’s Hepatitis A case moves towards justice

The Roanoke Times reports: The victims of a hepatitis A outbreak at a Roanoke restaurant — which killed four people and sickened more than 40 — were allowed Thursday to broaden their legal claims.

When the illness first struck customers of Famous Anthony’s late last summer, it was believed that an infected employee inadvertently spread the virus to food they ate at the restaurant’s Grandin Road Extension and Williamson Road locations.

Further investigation has determined that in addition to contaminating the food, the employee also touched surfaces such as doorknobs, tables and menus. Some customers who later came into contact with those surfaces were likely infected, according to Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who represents many of them.

“There is as much evidence that this was surface contamination as it was food contamination,” Marler said during a hearing Thursday in Roanoke’s federal court.

At the request of the plaintiffs’ attorneys — and over the objections of Famous Anthony’s insurance carrier, Cincinnati Insurance Co. — Judge Michael Urbanski allowed the victims to amend their earlier complaints to include both sources of the illness.

Cincinnati, which had earlier agreed to cover claims of food contamination, argued that the plaintiffs’ request to broaden the scope was “a theory in search of evidence.”

But in granting a motion made by Marler and other attorneys to amend the complaints, Urbanski said it may never be known how each diner at the restaurants came down with hepatitis A.

“This case needs to go forward,” he said. “It needs to be resolved. And I intend to do that.”

People who were sickened, and the family members of those who died, have filed about 40 lawsuits against Famous Anthony’s in state court. Those legal claims were put on hold in January, when the restaurant filed for bankruptcy.

In all likelihood, the lawsuits will not be decided by a judge or jury. Instead, a medical claims evaluator appointed by the bankruptcy court will determine how much each person should receive from a pool of insurance money.

When a dispute surfaced over whether the coverage limit is $7 million as Cincinnati contends, or $14 million as the plaintiffs argue, that question was removed to U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

Urbanski must now decide whether the policy allows for $7 million in total, or whether that amount should apply to each of the two restaurants where the outbreak occurred. Once that question is resolved, the matter will be returned to bankruptcy court for the distribution of money to the victims.

Cincinnati agreed early this year to pay $7 million to settle the case, according to the company’s attorney, James Humphreys. But that offer was rejected by the plaintiffs.

Since then, the case has been complicated further by a dispute over whether the claims should be limited to food contamination, or include surface contamination or a combination of the two.

The insurance company argues that expanding the case beyond food as the source of the illness raises questions about liability and coverage that it cannot determine at this point.

But the victims are also in the dark about the outbreak, Marler said, because they have not been able to acquire information from the legal process of discovery since their lawsuits were stayed by the bankruptcy proceedings.

The Virginia Heath Department’s Roanoke office has said the virus was spread, beginning in late summer 2021, by an employee who worked at three Famous Anthony’s locations. Patrons became sick at the Grandin and Williamson road eateries, but not at the third.

At the time, the unidentified worker did not know that he or she had hepatitis A, which generally does not produce symptoms for the first two weeks, which is also the period in which it is most contagious.

Microscopic amounts of fecal matter from the employee, who is suspected of inadequate hand-washing after using the bathroom, was spread to food and restaurant surfaces and then to customers.

The employee had multiple duties, which included working as a cook, waiting on tables and greeting customers as they came into the restaurants.

Hepatitis A causes liver inflammation. At least two Famous Anthony’s customers became so ill that they required liver transplants.

“It has been a year since this tragic outbreak,” Marler said. “Many of my clients were either getting out of the hospital or burying loved ones at this time a year ago.”

Person to Person Hepatitis A growing in US

When hearing about hepatitis A, many people think about contaminated food and water. However, in the United States, hepatitis A is more commonly spread from person to person. Since March 2017, CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) has been assisting multiple state and local health departments with hepatitis A outbreaks, spread through person-to-person contact.

The hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to prevent hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection 

  • The following groups are at highest risk for acquiring HAV infection or developing serious complications from HAV infection in these outbreaks and should be offered the hepatitis A vaccine in order to prevent or control an outbreak:
    • People who use drugs (injection or non-injection)
    • People experiencing unstable housing or homelessness 
    • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
    • People who are currently or were recently incarcerated 
    • People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C
  • One dose of single-antigen hepatitis A vaccine has been shown to control outbreaks of hepatitis A.1,2
  • Pre-vaccination serologic testing is not required to administer hepatitis A vaccine. Vaccinations should not be postponed if vaccination history cannot be obtained or records are unavailable.

CDC has provided outbreak-specific considerations for hepatitis A vaccine administration and has updated its overall recommendations on the prevention of hepatitis A virus infection in the United States.

Long Beach Meals on Wheels linked to Hepatitis A exposure

The Long Beach Post reports that health officials in Long Beach notified recipients of Meals on Wheels that they may have been exposed to hepatitis A, a highly contagious liver infection, in late May and June.

The nonprofit delivers meals five times a week to about 400 people in Long Beach who can’t shop for themselves and live alone, most of them elderly. The Long Beach Health Department sent letters to those who consumed food delivered by the agency on May 23, May 31, June 6 and June 13, warning them of the possible exposure.

The individuals “were notified as standard public health practice, but the risk of developing Hepatitis A infection is low,” the Health Department said in a statement Thursday. “Meals on Wheels has cooperated fully and there is no ongoing risk to eating Meals on Wheels food.”

Meals on Wheels Executive Director Bill Cruikshank said the incident stemmed from a volunteer who was helping package food, but couldn’t provide further details due to privacy laws.

“This was a very low-risk exposure,” he said.

The Health Department advised those who were notified to get vaccinated for hepatitis A if they haven’t already, and to monitor any symptoms of the illness, which include diarrhea, stomach pain, dark-colored urine, fever, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and muscle pain.

There is no treatment for the virus, which typically goes away on its own.

The virus is spread through contact with someone who is positive, or by ingesting food or water that has been contaminated with feces from an infected person.

More with Hepatitis A linked to Strawberries

As of May 31, 2022, a total of 18 outbreak-associated cases of hepatitis A have been reported from 3 states – California (16), Minnesota (1) and North Dakota (1).  Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 28, 2022, to May 6, 2022. Ill people range in age from 9 to 73 years, with a median age of 57.5 years. Sixty-seven percent of ill people are female. Of 18 people with available information, 13 (72%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicate that fresh organic strawberries, imported from Baja California, Mexico, are the likely source of this outbreak. The potentially affected FreshKampo and HEB products are past shelf life and no longer available for purchase in the United States. People who purchased FreshKampo or HEB fresh organic strawberries during March 5, 2022, through April 15, 2022, and then froze those strawberries for later consumption should not eat them. These products may have been sold at the following retailers, including, but not limited to: HEB, Kroger, Safeway, Sprouts Farmers Market, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Weis Markets, and WinCo Foods. One downstream recall from a company that may have used strawberries linked to this outbreak to make a product has been initiated. The recall is for Urban Remedy Organic Revitalizing Tea Tonic Strawberry Hibiscus Rose. People should not drink the recalled tea.

In Canada, As of June 2, 2022, there are 10 laboratory-confirmed cases of hepatitis A illness being investigated in two provinces: Alberta (4) and Saskatchewan (6). Individuals became ill between early and mid-April 2022. Individuals who became ill are between 10 to 75 years of age. Four individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation into the FreshKampo brand fresh organic strawberries purchased between March 5 and 9, 2022 at Co-op stores in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Currently, there are no food recall warnings associated with this outbreak.

The U.S. CDC and FDA are also investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A infections potentially linked to fresh organic strawberries. Investigators in Canada and the U.S. continue to collaborate to exchange information and identify commonalities in the outbreak information that may identify additional sources of illness or help to identify the cause of contamination in the fresh organic strawberries.

A History of Hepatitis A Lawsuits

The hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have many years of experience working with clients on Hepatitis A outbreak lawsuits.

Hepatitis A is one of five human hepatitis viruses (hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E) that primarily infect the liver and cause illness. It is a communicable (or contagious) disease that spreads from person-to-person through fecal-oral contact, often from an infected food handler contaminating food. The cases the Marler Clark hepatitis A lawyers have been involved in have generally resulted from contaminated food or water.

An estimated 80,000 hepatitis A cases and an estimated 100 deaths due to acute liver failure brought on by hepatitis A occur each year in the U.S. The rate of infection has dramatically decreased since the hepatitis A vaccine was licensed and became available in 1995. Despite the decrease in hepatitis A cases nationally, Marler Clark has represented clients young and old who have become ill with hepatitis A after eating contaminated food or who were exposed to the virus and had to receive an injection to prevent illness.

The Marler Clark hepatitis A attorneys have unmatched experience representing victims of hepatitis A. Our law firm represented victims of notable hepatitis A outbreaks such as the 2003 Chi Chi’s hepatitis A outbreak, the 2005 California lettuce hepatitis A outbreak, and the 2010 Quad-Cities McDonald’s hepatitis A outbreak. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

What to know about Hepatitis A

Viral hepatitis is a major global public health problem affecting hundreds of millions of people and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Five biologically unrelated hepatotropic viruses cause most of the global burden of viral hepatitis: hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis D (delta) virus (HDV), and hepatitis E virus (HEV).  

Hepatitis A is a communicable (or contagious) disease that is acquired primarily by the fecal oral route either from person to person or through contaminated food or water. Food-related outbreaks are most commonly associated with contamination of food during preparation by an HAV-infected food handler. The food handler may not recognize they are contagious or ill because the peak time of infectivity—that is, when the most virus is present in the stool of an infected individual—occurs during the two weeks before symptoms begin. The clinical manifestations and duration of illness vary a great deal, with many persons, especially young children, showing no symptoms at all. The clinical signs of HAV infection include dark urine and, sometimes, clay-colored stool, often accompanied or followed by jaundice. Associated symptoms may involve fever, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, and extreme fatigue. Hepatitis A is the only common vaccine-preventable foodborne disease in the United States. Each year, approximately 3,700 to 10,000 cases of hepatitis A occur in the United States.

In New York, come for the Dunkin Donuts, leave with Hepatitis A? Walmart too?

Food Service Workers should get a damn Vaccine.

Chemung County is alerting the public to a potential exposure of a confirmed case of the Hepatitis A virus.

The Chemung County Health Department launched a disease investigation of a Schuyler County resident who worked at two area Dunkin Donuts while infected.

Now, the county is setting up a free clinic for community members, urging those who may have had any contact with the infected individual to get a vaccine to protect against Hepatitis A. Those details can be found below.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. More in-depth details about the virus can be found below.

Officials say, following laboratory testing, interviews and a restaurant inspection, an employee who handles food at Dunkin Donuts on Corning Road (Miracle Mile) in Elmira Heights was identified with the Hepatitis A virus.

The worker also worked one day at the Dunkin Donuts in the Walmart store on County Road 64 in Horseheads.

The Dunkin locations have been notified of the potential exposure and the employee has not worked since February 11th.

Additionally, the Health Department has advised the manager to send any staff reporting Hepatitis A virus related symptoms for medical evaluation before returning to work.

Employees of the restaurant will be offered post exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which is medicine to prevent Hepatitis A after a possible exposure.

Dunkin Donuts in Elmira Heights will be subject to additional inspections over the coming weeks and is complying with NYSDOH recommendations.

As a result of this potential Hepatitis A virus exposure, the Chemung County Health Department is advising anyone who ate food or drinks via dine-in, takeout, delivery or utilized the restroom at Dunkin Donuts in Elmira Heights (2501 Corning Rd., Elmira Heights, NY 14903) on February 9 or February 11, 2021 to receive free Hepatitis A vaccine from the Chemung County Health Department to prevent potentially exposed individuals from becoming infected.

Masks are required at the clinic. The vaccination clinic will be held at:

Where: Mass Vaccination Clinic, 17 Aviation Dr., Horseheads, NY 14845

When: Saturday February 20th from 9 am to Noon and Sunday, February 21st Noon to 3 pm

Those attending the Clinic are encouraged to pre-register to save time during the onsite registration process. Pre-registration may be completed prior to arrival by visiting, www.chemungcountyny.gov/HepA and look for the pre-registration links.

“We encourage those who may have been exposed during these specific timeframes to visit the clinic to receive free post exposure prophylaxis,” stated Public Health Director Peter Buzzetti.

Those who ate food or drinks via dine-in, takeout, delivery or utilized the restroom at either Dunkin Donuts locations between January 26, 2021 and February 5, 2021 may have been exposed but will not benefit from Hepatitis A vaccine to prevent infection from this exposure and are encouraged to monitor themselves and their families for symptoms for 50 days after consuming the food.

Those who develop symptoms suggestive of Hepatitis A virus should seek medical evaluation.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A virus can include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  •  Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

The disease is rarely fatal and most people recover in a few weeks without any complications. Adults have signs and symptoms of illness more often than children.

Infants and young children tend to have very mild symptoms and are less likely to develop jaundice than are older children and adults. Not everyone who is infected will have all of the symptoms.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It can range from no symptoms at all, to a mild illness lasting a few weeks, to a severe illness lasting several months. Although rare, Hepatitis A can cause death in some people.

Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. This can happen from eating at a restaurant, sharing food or drink, or eating when traveling in one of the many countries outside the United States with a high Hepatitis A infection rate.

Those with a past infection from Hepatitis A cannot be re-infected. He or she is immune for life and does not continue to carry the virus.

People who are most at risk of Hepatitis A include:

  • People with direct contact with someone who has a Hepatitis A infection. This can occur up to 2 weeks before the infected person develops symptoms, so you may not be aware of your exposure at the time.
  • Travelers to countries where Hepatitis A is common, which include most countries outside the United States. More information is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web site: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/hepatitis-a
  • Men who have sexual contact with men,
  • People who use drugs, both injection and non-injection drugs, and
  • Homeless individuals

For more information about Hepatitis A, visit: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/hepatitis/hepatitis_a/food_service_workers_fact_sheet.htm

Mississippi Papa John's linked in Hepatitis A fear

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is investigating a case of hepatitis A in a De Soto County restaurant employee which may have led to possible exposure for customers.

An employee of Papa John’s Pizza in Horn Lake, 906 Goodman Road, has been diagnosed with hepatitis A infection. While infectious, the employee worked at the restaurant from January 28 – February 11, 2020. Customers who ate at the restaurant or received a pizza delivery on those days may have been exposed to hepatitis A.

Vaccination can prevent hepatitis A only if given within 14 days of exposure. Because those who ate at the restaurant (or received a pizza delivery) between January 28th and February 5th would have been exposed more than 14 days ago, they should watch for any possible symptoms of hepatitis A and see their doctor if they become ill. Those who ate at the restaurant or had pizza delivered from February 6th to February 11th should get a hepatitis A vaccination if they have not been previously vaccinated.

Those who think they may have been exposed to this case can receive a hepatitis A vaccination free of charge from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, February 20th and Friday, February 21st at the De Soto County Health Department, 8705 Northwest Drive, Building A, Suite 1 in Southaven.

“The risk of transmission of hepatitis A in this situation is likely very low. However, as a precaution, we recommend that anyone who ate food from this restaurant between February 6th and February 11th should consider getting a hepatitis A vaccination if they have not done so already. And again, those who may have been exposed between January 28th and February 5th should watch for any possible symptoms of hepatitis A and see their doctor if they become ill,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

“The management and staff of the Papa John’s are fully cooperating with MSDH to prevent illnesses as a result of this exposure,” said Byers.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that causes fever, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), abdominal pain and dark colored urine. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool (feces) from an infected person. If you think you have symptoms of hepatitis A, you should contact your healthcare provider.

Everyone can prevent the spread of hepatitis A by carefully washing hands with soap and water, including under the fingernails, after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.

As a reminder, there is an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in Mississippi and surrounding states affecting those who use drugs, those who are in jail or were recently in jail, those with unstable housing or who are homeless, and men who have sex with men. The MSDH continues to recommend hepatitis A vaccination for those specific groups as well.

Mississippi Gumbo Pot tied to Hepatitis A ill employee

The Mississippi State Department of Health is investigating a case of hepatitis A in a Warren County restaurant.
An employee of the Gumbo Pot on Halls Ferry Road in Vicksburg was diagnosed with the infection.

The employee worked at the restaurant on January 17, 18 and 22. Customers who ate at the restaurant on those days may have been exposed to hepatitis A.

Vaccination can prevent hepatitis A only if given within 14 days of exposure. Because those who ate at the restaurant on January 17 and 18 would have been exposed more than 14 days ago, they should watch for any possible symptoms of hepatitis A and see their doctor if they become ill.

Those who ate at the restaurant on January 22 should get the hepatitis A vaccination if they have not been previously vaccinated.

“The risk of transmission of hepatitis A in this situation is likely very low. However, as a precaution, we recommend that anyone who ate food from this restaurant on January 22 should consider getting a hepatitis A vaccination if they have not done so already. And again, those who may have been exposed on January 17 and 18 should watch for any possible symptoms of hepatitis A and see their doctor if become ill,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

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