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October 27, 1999

Hepatitis A Alert for Recent Visitors to Sea World in San Diego

Madison, WI (SafetyAlerts) -- The Wisconsin Division of Public Health today reported that the San Diego County Health Department is alerting recent visitors to SeaWorld that they may have been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus. A large number of Wisconsin residents have recently traveled to San Diego for the Green Bay Packers-San Diego Chargers football game on October 24.

A restaurant worker at Mama Stella's Italian Restaurant, in the SeaWorld complex, was diagnosed with Hepatitis A infection. People who ate Caesar salad, watermelon, dinner salad or strawberries at Mama Stella's Italian Restaurant on Monday October 11 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. or on Thursday October 21 between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. are at risk of acquiring Hepatitis A virus infection. People who ate at restaurants in the SeaWorld complex other than Mama Stella's are not at risk of acquiring Hepatitis A infection.

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.

According to the Wisconson Department of Health anyone exposed on October 21 should see their physician and receive immune globulin (IG) prophylaxis no later than November 4, 1999. IG is approximately 85% effective in preventing illness, but must be given within 14 days of exposure. It is too late for persons exposed on October 11 to receive IG. These people should contact their local public health department about ways to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A infection. Symptoms of Hepatitis A infection which occur 15 to 50 days after exposure, may include fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, abdominal pain or jaundice.

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.

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