Customers who had eaten
specific fruits and vegetables purchased from Albertsons at West Bowles and
South Platte Canyon Road between April 6 and April 21 were advised to get
shots after details of the workers infection were released.
A 9NEWS review of the case's timeline and Centers for Disease Control
standards indicates the employee was in the infectious stage of Hepatitis A
dating back to mid-March.
A Tri-County Health Department official acknowledged it did not notify
customers of the risk of potential exposure dating back to mid-March,
stating that any customers infected during that time period could not be
treated with the shots being offered.
"We were trying to come up with a positive statement," said Dr.
Richard Vogt, the executive director of the Tri-County Health Department.
The employee was cleared to return to work at the Albertsons at West Bowles
and South Platte Canyon Road on April 19. An Albertsons spokeswoman said
the employee was held out of work until April 22 out of an "abundance
After fielding questions from a reporter Wednesday night, Vogt ordered the
employee to refrain from food handling until additional blood work is
Vogt defended the decision not to inform customers of the full extent of
"We did everything in our power to come up with a program that would
prevent as many infections as possible," said Vogt.
Vogt said the entire extent of the incident would be outlined in a written
release to be issued Thursday afternoon.
Customers who purchased produce from the Albertsons at 3615 West Bowles
Avenue in March and are showing symptoms of Hepatitis A will be advised to
seek medical treatment, said Vogt.
Albertsons said decisions on the release of information on the Hepatitis A
threat were entirely in the hands of the health department.
The Tri-County Health Department described the foods affected as green
onions, celery that had the leaves cut off, lettuce that was not
pre-bagged, any watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew melon that was cut in
half or quarters and plastic containers containing only pre-cut watermelon.
Store records show about 3,000 items such items were sold.
Tri-County Health Department offered free vaccines after the initial report
of the Hepatitis A threat. The number of people vaccinated is expected to
be released Thursday.
The health department said people who bought other produce at this store do
not need to be concerned, or take any further action.
People who have had a vaccination for Hepatitis A or have had the illness
in the past are protected from getting the infection.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite,
nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, gray or white stools and
jaundice. Symptoms are more severe in adults than in children. Health
experts say the symptoms usually appear three to four weeks after exposure.
For more information, call the Health Department at 303-846-2006.