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Food & Health : Biological Agents Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Hepatitis A case in worker at Wolfgang Puck Catering
By Los Angles DHS Communications
Feb 28, 2007 - 12:54:58 PM

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Hepatitis A Case in Worker at Wolfgang Puck Catering


Attendees at small number of events are urged to receive immune globulin

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has been alerted that an employee at the Wolfgang Puck Catering facility in Hollywood has been diagnosed with acute hepatitis A. Public Health is investigating the situation and is working closely with the management of Wolfgang Puck Catering to determine which patrons may be at risk.

PLEASE NOTE: No restaurants or Express Cafes owned and operated by Wolfgang Puck or Wolfgang Puck pre-packaged foods are affected by this situation and restaurant patrons are not at risk.

Event hosts and the Department of Public Health are contacting attendees who ate uncooked food provided at four events that occurred between February 14 and February 20. These are within the 14 day window for administration of immune globulin (IG) to prevent illness, and it is recommended that these individuals receive this prophylactic medication, although the risk to any individual is quite low. There is no risk to any person who ate food prepared after February 20.

The largest of these four events was the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Party on February 14 at the Pacific Design Center, located at 8687 Melrose Avenue West Hollywood, California 90069. It is recommended that Individuals who attended this party and ate uncooked food there should receive immune globulin (IG) to prevent the development of acute hepatitis A by February 28.

Individuals who consumed food at the other three events that occurred in the last two weeks are being contacted by the Public Health Department and/ or their hosts and being urged to contact their physician to receive immune globulin (IG) if they have not already been immunized against hepatitis A or had the disease in the past.

The Department of Public Health will open clinics (see list attached) on February 28 to provide immune globulin to patrons who may not be able to receive this from their physician. Persons eating at the Sports Illustrated party should receive immune globulin no later than February 28. Other patrons should receive immune globulin as soon as possible, but no later than two weeks after possible exposure. Patrons can also locate a clinic by calling the following information lines: 1-800-427-8700 or 211.

The Public Health Department identified 9 other events in which the affected food handler was involved in food preparation during the period when that individual may have been infectious. However these individuals are beyond the 14 day period for administration of immune globulin. Hosts and organizers of these events are also being notified so that they can share with their guests the need to see a physician if they experience symptoms of hepatitis A so that they can receive appropriate care and their close contacts can receive prophylaxis.

The Department's Environmental Health staff inspected the catering company and found no problems. "The company has been exemplary in their response to this situation. Quick action on their part has minimized the number of patrons that may have been exposed to Hepatitis A. They have been fully cooperative," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Director of Public Health and County Health Officer.

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice [yellow skin or eyes], fatigue, fever and chills, accompanied by abdominal pain or vomiting or diarrhea light color stool or dark urine. If hepatitis A is diagnosed, it is essential that their physician notify the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

"Prompt diagnosis will allow for IG to be given to close contacts of cases and will allow Public Health to identify and investigate cases of acute hepatitis A," said Laurene Mascola, MD, MPH, Chief, Acute Communicable Disease Control program in Public Health.

Wolfgang Puck Catering employees are receiving immune globulin and health education about acute hepatitis A from Public Health.

Hepatitis A virus is spread by close physical contact and through fecal contamination of food or drink. Close contacts, including household and sexual partners, are at risk for acquiring hepatitis A from an infected person. The incubation period is 2 to 7 weeks. It is important to be diagnosed promptly - treatment with immune globulin (IG) can be given to close contacts to protect them from getting hepatitis A. Thorough handwashing with soap and hot water after using the toilet and before handling food is the most important factor in preventing the spread of the disease.

Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $700 million.

Attached: Public health center contact information and locations.

County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health Public Health Centers that provide immunization services


The following clinics are listed in alphabetical order:

Antelope Valley Public Health Center 335-B East Avenue K-6 Lancaster, CA 93535 (661) 723-4624
Pacoima Public Health Center 13300 Van Nuys Blvd. Pacoima, CA 91331 (818) 896-1903
Central Public Health Center 241 N. Figueroa Street Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 240-8204
Pomona Public Health Center 750 S. Park Avenue Pomona, CA 91766 (909) 868-0235
Curtis-Tucker Public Health Cente 123 W. Manchester Blvd. Inglewood, CA 90301 (310) 419-5325
South Public Health Center 1522 E. 102nd Street Los Angeles, CA 90002 (323) 563-4053
Glendale Public Health Center 501 N. Glendale Ave Glendale, CA 91206 (818) 500-5750
Torrance Public Health Center 711 Del Amo Blvd. Torrance, CA 90502 (310) 354-2300
Hollywood/Wilshire Public Health Center 5205 Melrose Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90038 (323) 769-7800
Whittier Public Health Center 7643 S. Painter Avenue Whittier, CA 90602 (562) 464-5350
Monrovia Public Health Center 330 W. Maple Avenue Monrovia, CA 91016 (626) 256-1600


For more information contact:
DHS Communications
(213) 240-8144 Pager: (213) 990-7107
[email protected]



The following are provided by the FDA with the questions added by


What is hepatitis A virus?

Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is classified with the enterovirus group of the Picornaviridae family. HAV has a single molecule of RNA surrounded by a small (27 nm diameter) protein capsid and a buoyant density in CsCl of 1.33 g/ml. Many other picornaviruses cause human disease, including polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and rhinoviruses (cold viruses).

What is the nature of hepatitis A?

The term hepatitis A (HA) or type A viral hepatitis has replaced all previous designations: infectious hepatitis, epidemic hepatitis, epidemic jaundice, catarrhal jaundice, infectious icterus, Botkins disease, and MS-1 hepatitis.

Hepatitis A is usually a mild illness characterized by sudden onset of fever, malaise, nausea, anorexia, and abdominal discomfort, followed in several days by jaundice. The infectious dose is unknown but presumably is 10-100 virus particles.

How is hepatitis A diagnosed?

Hepatitis A is diagnosed by finding IgM-class anti-HAV in serum collected during the acute or early convalescent phase of disease. Commercial kits are available.

What foods could cause hepatitis A infection?

HAV is excreted in feces of infected people and can produce clinical disease when susceptible individuals consume contaminated water or foods. Cold cuts and sandwiches, fruits and fruit juices, milk and milk products, vegetables, salads, shellfish, and iced drinks are commonly implicated in outbreaks. Water, shellfish, and salads are the most frequent sources. Contamination of foods by infected workers in food processing plants and restaurants is common.

How often does the hepatitis A outbreak occur?

Hepatitis A has a worldwide distribution occurring in both epidemic and sporadic fashions. About 22,700 cases of hepatitis A representing 38% of all hepatitis cases (5-year average from all routes of transmission) are reported annually in the U.S. In 1988 an estimated 7.3% cases were foodborne or waterborne. HAV is primarilly transmitted by person-to-person contact through fecal contamination, but common-source epidemics from contaminated food and water also occur. Poor sanitation and crowding facilitate transmission. Outbreaks of HA are common in institutions, crowded house projects, and prisons and in military forces in adverse situations. In developing countries, the incidence of disease in adults is relatively low because of exposure to the virus in childhood. Most individuals 18 and older demonstrate an immunity that provides lifelong protection against reinfection. In the U.S., the percentage of adults with immunity increases with age (10% for those 18-19 years of age to 65% for those over 50). The increased number of susceptible individuals allows common source epidemics to evolve rapidly.

What are the complications and symptoms associated with hepatitis A?

The incubation period for hepatitis A, which varies from 10 to 50 days (mean 30 days), is dependent upon the number of infectious particles consumed. Infection with very few particles results in longer incubation periods. The period of communicability extends from early in the incubation period to about a week after the development of jaundice. The greatest danger of spreading the disease to others occurs during the middle of the incubation period, well before the first presentation of symptoms. Many infections with HAV do not result in clinical disease, especially in children. When disease does occur, it is usually mild and recovery is complete in 1-2 weeks. Occasionaly, the symptoms are severe and convalescence can take several months. Patients suffer from feeling chronically tired during convalescence, and their inability to work can cause financial loss. Less than 0.4% of the reported cases in the U.S. are fatal. These rare deaths usually occur in the elderly.

Who are at risk of hepatitis A?

All people who ingest the virus and are immunologically unprotected are susceptible to infection. Disease however, is more common in adults than in children.



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