Three SLO County residents contract hepatitis A after catered event

Three San Luis Obispo County residents contracted hepatitis A following a private catered event that took place last month, according to the SLO County Public Health Department.

The public health department is actively investigating the cases and contacting individuals who may have been exposed to the virus to ensure they received medial attention if needed. The patients, event organizers and caterers are cooperating with the investigation, and the risk to the general public is low.

Health officials have not disclosed any further information about the catered event, other than that it took place on May 3.

The three local cases do not appear to be linked to recent state and national outbreaks of hepatitis A among the homeless and illicit drug users.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by a virus that can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. In the United States, hepatitis A typically spreads when a person is exposed to the virus from food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus can also spread through close personal contact.

When adults and children over the age of six contract the virus, symptoms tend to appear suddenly. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, yellow skin or eyes, dark urine or light-colored stool, diarrhea and joint pain.

Individuals who experiences these signs and symptoms should contact their regular health care provider.

“Hepatitis A can cause serious illness,” County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said. “It’s important to remember this illness can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.”

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