The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (MeCDC) issued a press release yesterday about a case of hepatitis A in Durham, Maine, after a woman serving food at a church supper was unknowingly infected with the virus at the time of the event. She later became ill and was diagnosed with hepatitis A, and staff from the MeCDC have been investigating and working with church officials since Sunday to inform about 100 people who were at the dinner on September 28, as contaminated food is the main means of spreading the virus. As the general public had been invited to the meal, officials cannot be sure if everyone exposed has been notified.
A free vaccine clinic is being held in the town to take advantage of the two-week period where immunization for hepatitis A virus can prevent the disease. The woman also prepared food for preschool children several weeks ago, but the vaccination window has since passed. Thankfully, most children are now vaccinated for hepatitis A virus.
So far no illnesses have been reported, but the incubation period of the virus is usually several weeks and sometimes the symptoms are so mild that people do not even realize they are ill. We recently wrote about a hepatitis A outbreak in New York City, and symptoms generally include fever, aches, diarrhea, vomiting, yellowing of the skin and eyes, and dark urine. Most people recover without incident but the symptoms can last for weeks, which is why prevention is important.
UPDATE: According to the MeCDC in an article published Oct. 15, the disease appears to have been contained, and 58 of the 75 at-risk individuals identified at the dinner received the vaccine at the free clinic.
Portland Press Herald, Oct. 8
The Portland Daily Sun, Oct. 8
barfblog, Oct. 7