November 5, 1999
31 Reports of Hepatitis A Infection In King
County, Seattle Area
King County, WA (SafetyAlerts)
- Since October 15, Public Health - Seattle & King County has received 31 reports of hepatitis A virus infection among King County residents. Twenty-one of
these infections have been reported in people who live or work in Northeast Seattle or
An ongoing investigation by Public Health suggests that many infections are associated
with consuming food from one of two different Subway Salads and Sandwiches outlets during
the month of September. The locations of these outlets are:
- 12354 15th NE, Seattle, and
- 18002 15th NE, Shoreline.
"If you have eaten at these restaurants
during September and are ill with symptoms of hepatitis, you should seek prompt medical
evaluation," said Dr. Alonzo Plough, Director of Public Health - Seattle & King
There is no evidence of continuing risk of illness from food or beverages served at these
outlets. No other Subway outlets have been implicated in this outbreak.
Because the incubation period for hepatitis A is 2 to 6 weeks, additional illnesses may
appear between now and November 14. If hepatitis A is diagnosed early, treatment can be
given within 2 weeks of exposure to prevent spread to family members and close personal
contacts of infected persons.
Persons who ate at these restaurant outlets in September and are not ill should see their
health care provider if they develop symptoms of hepatitis over the next ten days. As
always, everyone should practice thorough hand-washing after toileting and before handling
Preventive treatment is only effective when administered within 14 days of an exposure to
hepatitis A, and, consequently such treatment is not recommended for persons who were
exposed to hepatitis A in September. In addition, blood testing will only detect hepatitis
A after symptoms have begun; therefore, getting a blood test when you are well is not
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. Early symptoms include nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea, fatigue, poor appetite, abdominal cramps, and fever. Subsequently, dark yellow
or brown urine, pale or white bowel movements, and yellow skin or eyes can develop.
Persons can have some or all of these symptoms.
Adults tend to have more symptoms than do children. Hepatitis A virus lives in the stool
of an infected person and must enter another person's mouth to spread the infection. The
usual way this happens is when unclean hands handle food or other objects that are
swallowed. Thorough hand washing after toileting and before handling food can prevent
transmission of infection.
Hepatitis A can be prevented in adults and children 2 years of age or older through
vaccination. Although hepatitis A vaccination will not protect people from an exposure
that has already occurred, persons who have not had hepatitis A can be protected from
future infection by receiving the vaccine. The hepatitis A vaccine is over 95% effective
in preventing hepatitis A and is available from most health care providers including
Additional information about hepatitis A is available online at http://www.metrokc.gov/health/prevcont/hepa.htm.
Information is also available on a recorded message at (206)296-4949.
County Public Health
Safety Alerts compiles comprehensive safety
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consumers of faulty products and contaminated foods. For complete information regarding
current recalls, past recalls and timely product warning notification visit: www.safetyalerts.com.
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