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Hepatitis A at Los Angeles County Panda Express

Posted in Hep A,Hepatitis A,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on August 16, 2023

Eggrolls with a side of Hepatitis A? Some diners may have received more than what was listed on the menu.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a News Release on August 12, 2023, warning residents of Lancaster California of a possible hepatitis A exposure at a local Panda Express. The department is offering free hepatitis A vaccinations to patrons who may have been exposed to the virus.

Hepatitis A is a type of liver infection caused by infection with the hepatitis A virus. It is highly contagious and spread from person-to-person through by way of fecal-oral route. This means that exposure occurs when a person somehow ingests contaminated feces by an infected person by close personal contact or by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. This happens when a person with an active infection does not properly wash their hands and handles food or drinks or a food or water is contaminated at the source.

About Hepatitis A at Los Angeles County Panda Express

Only 1 Lancaster location is involved in this public health alert. No other Panda Express locations are indicated. The Panda Express listed in the alert is located at 44411 Valley Central Way, Lancaster, California 93536.

Panda Express
44411 Valley Central Way, Lancaster, California 93536

According to the Department, Public Health identified hepatitis A infection in a food handler who worked at this location. At this time there are no other cases involved in this incident.

Exposure Window

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a recommendation for patrons who consumed food or beverages from the indicated Panda Express between the dates of July 21 and August 4, 2023 should vaccinate to reduce the chance of infection. This vaccination is not needed for those who have experienced a known past infection or have already completed the hepatitis A vaccine series, as you should already have immunity to the virus.

Free Hepatitis A Vaccinations

You may receive a hepatitis A vaccine from your local physician or pharmacy. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is also offering free hepatitis A vaccinations for those who may have been exposed during this time.

Vaccines Available at:
Antelope Valley Health Center
335 E Ave K 6 Bd
Lancaster, CA 93535

Monday, August 14, 12:30pm – 4:30pm
Tuesday, August 15 through Friday, August 18, 8am – 4:30pm

How Vaccination After Exposure Works

Studies have shown that hepatitis A vaccinations administered within 2 weeks of exposure protects against the viral infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prophylactic vaccination after exposure is more effective the earlier it is received.

For people with certain pre-existing conditions such as chronic liver disease or are immunocompromised, the additional precaution of administering immune globulin (0.1 mL/kg) to help boost the recipients’ immune systems should be considered. The second dose of hepatitis A vaccine should be followed 6 months after initial vaccination.

While full immunity requires completing the series and will protect the recipient for up to 20 years, if only one vaccine is administered the recipient may still be protected for up to 10 years. For those wanting to ensure full protective antibody levels, follow up with your primary care provider for the second dose 6 months after receiving the first one.

Hepatitis A and Food Service

There is an expectation of trust when it comes to people handling your food. Whether this is at a grocery store, a fast-food restaurant, fine dining, or anything in between. This trust is backed up by health codes created and enforced by the local health authorities and food service management.

Certain conditions are high risk transmitters via food service workers and regulated by health authorities. Workers with diarrheal illness or hepatitis A should not be working with food. Managers should be monitoring employees and workers should self-report symptoms to reduce the spread of illness.

Both food workers and management have an obligation to safeguard the health of patrons.

Hepatitis A Symptoms

Children under 6 years old usually do not experience symptoms. If symptoms are present, they usually do not have the jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin) normally associated with hepatitis A infection.

Symptoms usually include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Clay colored stool
  • Joint pain

How Long Does the Virus Survive

Proper handwashing and isolation are the best way to prevent the spread of hepatitis A infection. The hepatitis A virus can live outside the body for months depending on the environmental conditions.

Additional Public Health Recommendations

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will continue to monitor all known individuals who may be exposed during this exposure event. Public Health urges those who develop symptoms to contact their healthcare provider for a Hepatitis A test.

Have You Been Exposed?

Have you been exposed do hepatitis A during this potential exposure event? You might have so many thoughts and scenarios running through your mind.

First, don’t panic. Not everyone exposed will become infected.

Monitor for symptoms. You don’t need to isolate your self during the incubation period, but you should monitor yourself for symptoms.

If you experience symptoms, get tested. If you begin to experience hepatitis A infection symptoms, most notably the yellowing of eyes and skin, reach out to you healthcare provider to get tested.

If you test positive for hepatitis A infection it is a good idea to reach out to a foodborne hepatitis A lawyer to help navigate you through the process.

If your hepatitis A infection was caused by improper food handling, serving, storing, or even manufacturing, those responsible may be liable for damages such as medical care, loss of work, and other burdens that have resulted from your infection.

We Can Help

An experienced attorney like The Lange Law Firm, PLLC can help you determine which parties may be held legally responsible and the legal theories on which to base your claim in this Hepatitis A at Los Angeles County Panda Express. Reach out for a free consultation to discuss your options and get answers to your questions. You may call (833) 330-3663 or click here to email.