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October 15, 1999

Hepatitis A Exposure at St. Louis Hard Rock Cafe

Springfield, IL (SafetyAlerts) - Illinoisans who ate at the Union Station Hard Rock Café in St. Louis, Mo., on various dates in early October, including a weekend when the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals played a season-ending series in that city, may have been exposed to hepatitis A by an infected restaurant employee, Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director, today announced.

Dr. Lumpkin said persons who ate at the restaurant on Oct. 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 9 should contact their physician, local hospital or local health department about receiving a shot of immune globulin, which is greater than 85 percent effective in protecting against hepatitis A. The Cubs and Cardinals played on Oct. 1, 2 and 3.

Illinois officials were notified Wednesday by the St. Louis Health Department that an infected food handler had worked at the restaurant between Sept. 17 and Oct. 9.

Immune globulin is only effective when given within 14 days of exposure, so persons who ate between Sept. 17 and Sept. 30 at the restaurant would not be recommended for the shot. Those individuals should contact their physician if they develop hepatitis A symptoms. They also should wash their hands frequently, especially after using the toilet, so, if infected, they do not spread the virus to others.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver and occurs 15 days to 50 days after exposure to an infected person. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, tiredness, nausea and vomiting and, in many infected persons, yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes. Diarrhea is not usually present with this disease but, when it is, the risk of transmitting the virus to others increases.

Most people recover without any complications, but on rare occasions hepatitis A can be fatal. Children with hepatitis A often do not have symptoms, but can transmit the virus to others if hands are not thoroughly washed.

Hepatitis A is contracted through the mouth and excreted in the stool. It can be spread by close personal contact with infected persons, or by eating or drinking food or beverages handled by an infected person.

Although immune globulin can be effective in preventing illness due to the hepatitis A virus, it does not kill the virus. Persons who have been exposed should wash their hands thoroughly after having a bowel movement to prevent transmission to others.

Source: Illinois Department of Health

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