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April 15, 2000

Six Cases of Hepatitis A Linked to Little Canada Restaurant

Patrons Are Urged to See Physician for Preventive Care

Little Canada, MN (SafetyAlerts) - Six confirmed cases of hepatitis A have been linked to the Hoggsbreath restaurant and bar in Little Canada, prompting health officials to recommend immune globulin (IG) shots for people who ate there.

The individuals who became ill include five members of the restaurant staff and one patron. State and county health officials are working to ensure that all potentially contaminated food at the Hoggsbreath has been discarded, and that the restaurant’s food handlers all get IG shots before returning to work. An IG shot protects a potentially infected individual against becoming ill, and immediately eliminates any risk of spreading the infection to anyone else.

Officials at the St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health Department and the Minnesota Department of Health are working with local health care providers to ensure that adequate supplies of IG are available. Officials say people don’t need to be concerned if their physician isn’t able to provide the shots this weekend. IG provides protection if it is administered within 14 days following exposure to the hepatitis A virus. The IG shots are being recommended for people who ate food or drank beverages with ice at the Hoggsbreath between April 5 and April 14.

However, officials are also cautioning people to be alert for hepatitis A symptoms if they ate at the restaurant as far back as the beginning of March. Although people in that group will not benefit from the IG shots, they can still be tested to see if they actually have the illness. If it is determined that they do have hepatitis A, they can get appropriate supportive care, and members of their families can receive the IG shots to prevent further spread of the virus.

The symptoms – which tend to come on suddenly – most commonly include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, pain in the abdomen, darkening of the urine, and light-colored stools. Symptoms can also include fever, headache, diarrhea and jaundice – a yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes.

Adults can become severely ill with hepatitis A, sometimes taking as long as six weeks to recover. However, young children may experience only mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all. People who don’t develop any symptoms can still pass the infection to others, and people who do become ill can spread the infection to other people both before and after they develop symptoms.

Hepatitis A is spread through contact with fecal material from an infected person, or consumption of contaminated food or water. Good handwashing practices and other basic hygiene measures can reduce the risk of transmission.

The illness has a long incubation period. Symptoms typically appear around 28 days after exposure to the virus, but it can take as long as 50 days in some cases.

Most people recover completely from hepatitis A, with no lasting effects. Once you’ve had it you become immune, eliminating the possibility that you’ll get it again.

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