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Hepatitis A Exposure at University of North Dakota, Officials Urge Vaccination

Posted in Food Safety,Hep A on February 23, 2024

Grand Forks North Dakota Public Health officials urge vaccination following possible Hepatitis A exposure at University of North Dakota. Reports indicate more than 50 people have been vaccinated so far.

According to Grand Forks Public Health, the exposure event took place at UND Memorial Union Chick-fil-A between Jan. 15 and Feb. 7.

Hepatitis A Exposure at University of North Dakota Alert Issued Feb. 17

North Dakota Health and Human Services sent out a public alert on Friday, Feb. 17 after a food worker tested positive for Hepatitis A. According to the agency, the individual may have been exposed while traveling out of state.

Hepatitis A is highly contagious when an infected individual is shedding the virus. Anyone consuming food at the UND Memorial Union Chick-fil-A while that food worker was on shift may have been exposed.

So far, this is the only reported case. It may take awhile for additional infections to be reported, as the incubation period can be several weeks.

Hepatitis A Exposure at University of North Dakota Dates/Time

Jan. 15, 2024: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Jan. 16, 2024: 11:00 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Jan. 17, 2024: 5:00 p.m. – 9:45 p.m.

Jan. 22, 2024: 5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Jan. 23, 2024: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Jan. 24, 2024: 5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Jan. 26, 2024: 5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Feb. 4, 2024: 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Feb. 6, 2024: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Feb. 7, 2024: 5:00 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.

Vaccine Clinics Held Following Hepatitis A Exposure at University of North Dakota

Both University of North Dakota and Grand Forks Public Health held vaccine clinics following the Hepatitis A exposure at University of North Dakota Memorial Union Chick-fil-A.

So far, more than 50 people have been vaccinated for the contagious virus.

Most of the vaccinations have happened at the University of North Dakota clinic, while others have taken place at Grand Forks Public Health.

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is the illness associated with infection with Hepatitis A Virus (HAV). This is an RNA virus that primarily infects humans and can stay in the environment for months. It can survive at low pH levels, even when frozen. Few things can inactivate the virus. Only high temperatures (185 °F or higher), formalin, and chlorine are known to kill the virus.

Hepatitis A Symptoms

Symptoms of Hepatitis A infection come on fairly strong and often persist up to two months. In some cases, however, symptoms may last or relapse for up to six months. The virus may continue to shed and be infectious during relapse or prolonged illness.

Symptoms in adults may include:

  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)

Young children, on the other hand, almost always show no symptoms at all. In fact, studies have shown that about 70% of children younger than 6 years are asymptomatic. In contrast, about 70% of older children and adults experience jaundice and/or other symptoms.

How Do You Get Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A infection, like the possible Hepatitis A Exposure at University of North Dakota is passed through what is called fecal-oral transmission.

Around 10 to 12 days after infection, the virus is present in the blood. It is then excreted via the biliary system into the hosts feces.

The virus spreads when an infected person is shedding the virus and does not properly wash their hands after bathroom activities.

When microscopic traces of feces are transferred to food, and that contaminated food is consumed, there is a chance for the virus to spread. High touch areas, such as counters, writing utensils, and door handles can also contribute to the spread of infection, especially if the unsuspecting person does not wash their hands prior to eating or touching their mouth.

A person is most contagious during the two weeks before they even know they are sick. While still infectious, the amount of virus that is shed by the infected person begins to decline after seven to ten days from original symptoms. Most people are no longer infectious after three weeks.

It can take up around 28 days from exposure for symptoms to appear. However, Hepatitis A has a rather wide incubation period range spanning anywhere from 15 days up to 50 days.

Is there Treatment for Hepatitis A?

Unfortunately, there is no true treatment for Hepatitis A. Medical management comes in the form of treating symptoms. Hydration and monitoring the liver, along with other symptoms is the only course of action.

Post Exposure Vaccine Prophylaxis

Hepatitis A is a unique illness, in that an exposed person can benefit from vaccination even AFTER exposure.

In fact, if the vaccine is administered promptly and at a minimum of two weeks after exposure, there is a significant likelihood that the individual will not become sick.

Certain groups of people who are at higher risk for infection or more severe illness may also benefit from coadministration of IG, a type of immunoglobulin that helps the body to develop a protective level of antibodies.

Talk to your healthcare provider about IG administration if you are:

  • Over 40 years old
  • Less than 12 months old
  • Immunocompromised
  • Have chronic liver disease

Post exposure Hepatitis A vaccination is very effective. More than 95% of adults and 97% of children/adolescents will develop protective antibodies within 4 weeks of a single dose. For full protection, an additional dose should be administered six months later.

Were You Subject to the Potential Hepatitis A Exposure at University of North Dakota?

Did you consume food from the UND Memorial Chick-fil-A during the listed times and subject to the potential Hepatitis A exposure at University of North Dakota? You may have a legal case.

Contact the experienced Hepatitis A Lawyers at The Lange Law Firm. They are experienced at helping people through situations just like this.

The Lange Law Firm offers free consultations and can help you explore your legal rights. Reach out for your free consultation by phone at (833) 330-3663 or click here to email.

Want to Know More About Food Concerns in the News?

Want to know more about food concerns in the news, similar to possible Hepatitis A exposure at University of North Dakota? Check out the Make Food Safe Blog. We regularly update trending topics, foodborne infections in the news, recalls, and more!

Stay tuned for quality information to help keep your family safe, while The Lange Law Firm, PLLC strives to Make Food Safe!

By: Heather Van Tassell (contributing writer, non-lawyer)