Hepatitis A case reported at Pacific Beach restaurant

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — County health officials announced Friday that someone may have exposed others to hepatitis A at a Pacific Beach restaurant over seven days in late August and early September.

San Diego County health officials are advising the public that anyone who may have eaten or had beverages at the World Famous restaurant in Pacific Beach on seven specific dates and times that they may have been exposed to a person with the hepatitis A virus.

Wilma Wooten, the County’s public health officer says the county has confirmed that a person who worked as a bartender at the restaurant has Hepatitis A.

The risk to the public is confined to those who were eating or drinking at the restaurant on specific dates and times.

“The risk to the public is low, but anyone who ate or had beverages at the restaurant on those dates and times should be aware of the signs and symptoms of hepatitis A,” Wooten said.

The dates and times of potential exposure at the restaurant were:

  • August 28, 29 and 30 between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m.
  • September 3 and 4 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • September 10 and 11 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.

“A person is infectious for two weeks before the onset of jaundice and for a week afterward, so we had to find out exactly when did the individual work and what hours, so that’s the information that’s posted,” Wooten said. “We encourage anyone who has not had the hepatitis A vaccine and those who may have been exposed to contact their health care provider.”

The general manager of World Famous said employees were also encouraged to get a Hepatitis A vaccine if they had not already received one.

As a voluntary measure, the restaurant closed for one day, shutting its doors last Tuesday and re-opening on Wednesday afternoon, so that the restaurant could be thoroughly cleaned.

Erik Berkley said, ”The entire restaurant from floor to ceiling was cleaned and sanitized by a professional hazmat crew.”

Berkley said his employees continued to clean the restaurant themselves after the hazardous materials crew finished its work.

“I think it’s important to note that the things we have done were voluntary. We wanted to help our guests and staff feel assured that we’re doing everything we can to keep the environment clean and safe for everybody,” Berkley said.

Individuals can obtain hepatitis A immunizations through their primary care physicians and through many pharmacies. Anyone who was exposed to the virus but is not covered by a medical insurance plan, and wants to be evaluated for hepatitis A vaccination may go to any County public health center, where vaccinations will be given at no cost.

The County’s North Central Public Health Center will have special hours on Saturday, Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to administer hepatitis A vaccinations. The center is located at 5055 Ruffin Road, San Diego.

Because the spread to patrons is unlikely, the California Department of Public Health does not routinely recommend immunization after a restaurant customer has been exposed to the virus. However, patrons who have not been previously immunized for hepatitis A should consider getting the vaccine no later than two weeks after exposure. If you have been immunized with the hepatitis A vaccine or previously had the disease, you are considered protected from the virus.

Someone with hepatitis can be contagious to others before they develop symptoms.  The early signs and symptoms of hepatitis A appear two to seven weeks after exposure and commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, light color stools, pain in the upper right abdomen, and yellowness to the eyes or skin (jaundice).

Hepatitis A varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and in more severe cases lasting four to seven weeks or longer. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice or any symptom at all. However, even mildly ill people can still be highly infectious and should consult a physician.

The Hepatitis A vaccine is the preferred preventive treatment for healthy persons from 12 months to 40 years old. Either hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin may be used for those 41 to 59 years of age. The immune globulin is preferred for those 60 years of age and older, those less than 12 months of age, and those at any age who are immune compromised or have chronic liver disease.

Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter – even microscopic amounts – from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by an infected person. People are at increased risk of getting hepatitis A when they have been in close and continuous contact with an infected individual, particularly in a household. Careful hand washing is the key to preventing the spread of hepatitis A.

Categories: Hepatitis A, Local San Diego News