Hepatitis A Case in Worker at Wolfgang Puck Catering
Attendees at small number of events are urged to receive
LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles County Department of Public
Health has been alerted that an employee at the Wolfgang Puck Catering facility
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
Center, located at
8687 Melrose Avenue
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
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
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
County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health Public
Health Centers that provide immunization services
The following clinics are listed in alphabetical order:
335-B East Avenue K-6
Van Nuys Blvd.
Pacoima Public Health Center 13300
N. Figueroa Street
90012 (213) 240-8204
S. Park Avenue
Curtis-Tucker Public Health Cente 123 W.
1522 E. 102nd Street
90002 (323) 563-4053
N. Glendale Ave
Del Amo Blvd.
Hollywood/Wilshire Public Health Center 5205
90038 (323) 769-7800
S. Painter Avenue
W. Maple Avenue
For more information
(213) 240-8144 Pager: (213) 990-7107
The following are provided by the FDA with the questions
added by foodconsumer.org
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
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
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
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
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
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.