SU food service worker found to have hepatitis A

Onondaga County health commissioner says public is not at risk of infection.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

By Charley Hannagan

Staff writer


Source of Article:

Some food service workers at Syracuse University have been asked to take a dose of hepatitis A vaccine, after a colleague was diagnosed with the disease.

Dr. Cynthia Morrow, Onondaga County's health commissioner, called the incident an "extremely low-risk situation."

The food service worker presented symptoms on Friday, said Kevin Morrow, speaking for the university in an e-mail Tuesday. Lab tests were ordered and came back positive for hepatitis A, he said.

The health department interviewed the infected person Friday, and learned that the individual had worked in the Shaw and Haven dining halls on Aug. 23 and 27.

The health department found that the worker was infected outside of Onondaga County, Morrow said.

Most infections from hepatitis A result from contact with a household member or sex partner, according to an e-mail sent to students Tuesday by Dr. James R. Jacobs, director of SU health services.

The virus is transmitted through the feces. Symptoms include an abrupt onset of fever, malaise, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice.

When a food service worker is diagnosed with the disease, the state recommends that colleagues who worked the same shift be vaccinated as a precaution, Morrow said.

The health department also is encouraging other food services employees, including student workers, who worked in the Shaw or Haven dining halls on Aug. 23 and 27 to consider receiving a dose of the vaccine, the e-mail said. Those workers will be notified by the food services department, the e-mail said.

There is no cause for concern for students who ate meals in the dining halls, Morrow said. After inspections of the dining halls over the weekend and conducting extensive interviews with employees about the university's food handling policies and procedures, the health department found that SU has "excellent" food handling policies and that workers follow those policies, she said.

"This is actually a very low-risk situation," she said. "The public is not at risk in this situation."




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