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Hepatitis A case in Auckland

Hepatitis A case in Auckland

27 January 2002

DIRECTOR GENERAL OF HEALTH PRIVILEGED STATEMENT

UNDER SECTION 37 OF THE FOOD ACT 1981

Director General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi is requesting patrons of an Auckland restaurant who may have been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus to contact the Auckland Public Health Office.

Patrons dining at the Bluefins Restaurant and Bar, Mission Bay, Auckland may have been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus on the evenings of January 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th or January 15th and 16th.

Dr Poutasi said patrons who ate at the restaurant on those evenings should contact the Auckland Public Health Office on (09) 262 1855 for further advice.

"Unfortunately, a staff member who later developed symptoms of Hepatitis A was incubating the disease while handling and serving food at the restaurant," said Dr Poutasi.

"There is a potential for food contamination and we want to ensure people are advised of the measures they can take."

Dr Poutasi said those who dined on January 15th and 16th may benefit from a protective injection to reduce the chance of developing Hepatitis A. They would need to receive the immune globulin injection before Wednesday 30th January for it to be effective.

"All patrons who dined at the restaurant on January 15th and 16th and all staff at the restaurant are being offered the immune globulin injection.

"The immune globulin injection will no longer be effective for those who dined at the restaurant between January 7th and 10th. However, the staff of the public health unit are available to advise all patrons and I encourage those concerned to call the number provided."

The injection of immune globulin will be provided at the Auckland District Health Board's community health office in Epsom on Tuesday 29 January as arranged during the telephone counselling.

There were an estimated 122 diners between the 15th and 16th of January and 226 diners between the 7th and 10th of January.

"Fifty of the diners from January 15th and 16th have already been contacted and 24 have received the immune globulin injection, but the remainder are still to be contacted. Efforts to contact them have been hampered by Auckland Anniversary weekend," said Dr Poutasi.

All patrons dining on the above dates need to be extra cautious with their hand hygiene, particularly when preparing food and after going to the toilet. The disease can be transmitted by contamination of food from the hands, even in those without symptoms.

"The staff member is now off duty. There is no ongoing risk of Hepatitis A associated with eating at the restaurant. The food hygiene standards at the Blue Fins Restaurant and Bar are high and have not contributed to this incident," Dr Poutasi said.

signed by:

Dr Karen O Poutasi,

Director-General of Health

For more information contact: Zoe Priestley, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2483 or 025-277 5411 http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html

BACKGROUND

Hepatitis A is the most prevalent type of hepatitis. Hepatitis A is transmitted from person to person through the fecal-oral route.

The incubation period is commonly between 28 and 30 days.

Symptons include fever, anorexia, nausea or abdominal discomfort with jaundice.

Maximum infectivity is one to two weeks before and the first few days after the onset of jaundice.

There is no treatment once the disease has been contracted but the immune globulin injection can prevent the progression of the disease.

The Hepatitis A vaccine is advised for overseas travellers particularly to areas where food handling is suspect.

Zoe Priestley Media Advisor Communications Corporate & Information Directorate Ministry of Health DDI: 04 496 2483 Fax: 04 496 2010


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