Since January 2019, Southwestern Idaho has seen an increase in Hepatitis A cases. Though a common link among cases has not been identified, public health encourages you to protect yourself by getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and using proper hand hygiene.
> View statewide hepatitis A case counts and data, HERE. (link to Idaho Dept. of Health & Welfare's tableau webpage)
Three hepatitis A cases involving three food service workers have recently been confirmed.Though the chance of contracting Hepatitis A from a food service worker is low, if you were a patron on a specified day and timeframe (listed below), there is a chance you were exposed to hepatitis A due to an employee of the establishment being diagnosed with the virus. Please read below for locations and dates the food service employees worked while infectious and information on how you might qualify for a free hepatitis A vaccine at Central District Health.
Frontier Club, 116 E. Broadway, Meridian | 8/13/2019 News Release
The Frontier Club employee worked the following days and shifts while contagious (2019):
Red Robin - 211 W. Parkcenter Boulevard, Boise | 8/9/2019 News Release
The Red Robin employee worked the following days and shifts while contagious (2019):
* indicates updated date/timeframe (since original 8/9/19 information)
Saint Lawrence Gridiron - 705 W. Bannock Street, Boise | 7/17/2019 News Release
The Saint Lawrence Gridiron employee worked the following days and shifts while contagious (2019):
What should I do if I was a patron on one of the dates listed?
The risk of becoming infected with hepatitis A through an infected food service worker is low but CDH encourages anyone who was a patron on any of the dates identified, and has not received a hepatitis A vaccine, or is unsure about their vaccine status, to consider getting vaccinated.
CDH is offering free hepatitis A vaccine to those who were patrons on an identified date listed above and are within the two week window of potential exposure. In order for the hepatitis A vaccine to help prevent possible transmission, patrons must get the vaccine within two weeks of the date they may have been exposed. Where applicable, insurance will be billed an administrative vaccine fee, however there will be no out of pocket cost. Call 208-321-2222 to make an appointment.
Those with questions about their immunization record, who wish to make a vaccine appointment or have questions related to hepatitis A and potential exposure at this establishment may call 208-321-2222.
Potentially exposed patrons should also watch for symptoms of hepatitis A which may include abdominal pain, dark urine, fatigue, fever, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), light-colored stools, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Hepatitis A symptoms typically develop around 4 weeks after exposure if you have been infected. If symptoms occur, seek medical attention.
Answers to some of the common questions we are receiving:
Hepatitis A Frequently Asked Questions Flyer
FREE Hepatitis A Vaccine at Central District Health (CDH)
CDH is offering FREE hepatitis A vaccine (by appointment) to those who may be at a higher risk for contracting hepatitis A, including:
Appointments are required. Please call 208-327-7400 to schedule a vaccine appointment.
Other Low or No-Cost Hepatitis A Vaccine Options
Call location for details.
Terry Reilly Boise | 208-344-3512
Southwest District Health (Offices in Caldwell, Emmett, Payette and Weiser) | 208-455-5300
Family Medicine Health Center | 208-514-2510
8/13/2019: Hepatitis A case confirmed in food service worker employed at Frontier Club, 116 E. Broadway, Meridian
8/9/2019: Hepatitis A case confirmed in food service worker; CDHD offering free vaccine to impacted patrons and employees.
7/17/2019: Hepatitis A case confirmed in food service worker; CDHD offering free vaccine to impacted patrons and employees.
5/24/2019: CDHD Offering Free Vaccine in Response to Hepatitis A Outbreak
4/19/2019: Possible Hepatitis A Exposure on Commercial Bus Route Between Salt Lake City and Boise
4/8/2019: Health officials warn of Hepatitis A outbreak in southern Idaho (IDHW News Release)
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis but a virus often causes hepatitis. In the United States, the most common hepatitis viruses are hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus.
Most people who get hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death; this is more common in people older than 50 and in people with other liver diseases.
Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. Hepatitis A can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill.
Contamination of food (this can include frozen and undercooked food) by hepatitis A can happen at any point: growing, harvesting, processing, handling, and even after cooking. Contamination of food or water is more likely to occur in countries where hepatitis A is common and in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions or poor personal hygiene. In the United States, chlorination of water kills hepatitis A virus that enters the water supply. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) routinely monitors natural bodies of water used for recreation for fecal contamination so there is no need for monitoring for hepatitis A virus specifically.
Older children and adults typically have symptoms. If symptoms develop, they can appear abruptly and can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored stools
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
Most children younger than age 6 do not have symptoms when they have hepatitis A. When symptoms are present, young children typically do not have jaundice but most older children and adults with hepatitis A have jaundice.
Symptom Onset & Duration
If symptoms occur, they usually start appearing 4 weeks after exposure, but can occur as early as 2 and as late as 7 weeks after exposure. Symptoms usually develop over a period of several days. Symptoms usually last less than 2 months, although some people (10% to 15%) with hepatitis A can have symptoms for as long as 6 months.
Hepatitis A can be prevented and the best way is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. The vaccine is both safe and effective. To get the full benefit of the hepatitis A vaccine, more than one shot is needed. The number and timing of these shots depends on the type of vaccine you are given.
Who should get vaccinated against hepatitis A?
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends hepatitis A vaccination for the following people:
All children at age 1 year
Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
Men who have sexual encounters with other men
Users of recreational drugs, whether injected or not
People with unstable housing or experiencing homelessness
People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
People with clotting-factor disorders
People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A
Any person wishing to obtain immunity (protection)
The hepatitis A vaccine is safe and effective and given as 2 shots, 6 months apart. Both shots are needed for long-term protection. The hepatitis A vaccine also comes in a combination form, containing both hepatitis A and B vaccine, that can be given to anyone 18 years of age and older. This combination vaccine is given as 3 shots, over 6 months. All three shots are needed for long-term protection for both hepatitis A and B.
The hepatitis A vaccine has been routinely recommended for children in Idaho since 1999. However, there are many Idahoans' over the age of 25 who may not have been vaccinated as a child and are susceptible to hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A Vaccine at CDH
CDH is offering FREE hepatitis A vaccine to those who do not have health insurance (uninsured) or whose insurance does not cover the entire cost of vaccine. Appointments are required. Please call 208-327-7400 to schedule a vaccine appointment.
Practicing good hand hygiene — including thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food — plays an important role in preventing the spread of hepatitis A.