Food handler at West Hollywood business tests positive for hepatitis A, triggering health warning

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (CNS) -- A food handler at a West Hollywood juice bar was confirmed to be infected with hepatitis A, county health officials said Friday, adding they are working with the business owners to identify customers who may have been exposed.

According to the county Department of Public Health, no additional hepatitis cases have yet been identified stemming from the worker at Sunlife Organics Juice Bar.

But health officials are recommending that customers who ate food or drank beverages from the juice bar between March 14-17 receive a vaccination for hepatitis A. Vaccination is not needed for people who previously received the shot, or have had a prior infection. But to reduce illness, the vaccine should be administered within two weeks of exposure.

While shots may be available at local pharmacies or doctors' offices, the county will offer free hepatitis vaccines to potentially exposed people next week at the Hollywood Wilshire Health Center, 5205 Melrose Ave.

The shots will be offered from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday and Monday, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday.

According to county health officials, hepatitis A is highly contagious and can be spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Adults who develop acute hepatitis A can experience symptoms including fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark-colored urine or jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin or eyes.

Officials say vaccination is the best way to prevent disease and that infection can be prevented by vaccination within 14 days after a known exposure to a person infectious with hepatitis A.

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