Health Department Warns Of Exposure to Hepatitis A

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Vaccination Urged For Customers Of Littleton Albertsons Store

POSTED: 5:23 pm MDT April 19, 2009

UPDATED: 10:34 am MDT April 20, 2009

Thousands of Coloradans are potentially exposed to Hepatitis A.

The Tri-County Health Department said a produce handler from the Albertsons grocery store at 3615 West Bowles Avenue in Littleton has tested positive for Hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection transmitted by feces. It is spread when a person does not properly wash his/her hands after using the restroom, then touches food that is eaten by someone else.

Anyone who ate the food handled by this employee could be infected. No other Albertsons store locations are affected.

The potentially contaminated foods are limited to:

green onions

celery that has the leaves cut off

lettuce that is not pre-bagged

watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew melon that has been cut into half or quarters

cut watermelon which was inside plastic containers

According to store records, about 3,000 of these items were sold.

Tri-County Health said the employee did wear gloves and washed his or her hands most of the time, but there is still concern for public safety.

"In our review, we found a few situations where things were not exactly correct and they could not recite the exact approach and we wanted to error on the side of protection," said Dr. Richard Vogt, executive director of Tri-County Health.

Anyone who ate any of these listed fruits or vegetables is urged to get a vaccination for free from the Tri-County Health Department. The shots will be given at the Columbine United Church, 6375 South Platte Canyon Road, Monday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Vogt said if you believe you have eaten any of these fruits or vegetables do not wait for symptoms of Hepatitis A before seeing a doctor as there are no medications for the virus, which has flu-like symptoms.

If you contract the virus you will have to let it run its course, which could be two to six weeks according to Vogt.

"Hepatitis A is not a disease you want to have," said Vogt. "It is annoying and can make you feel fairly ill."

The vaccination, however, will prevent the illness.



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