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Fairway Markets Quadra worker tests positive for Hep A

 Hepatitis A vaccines will be available in the next few days to employees and those who ate non-pre-packaged food from Fairway Markets at 2635 Quadra Street in Victoria.

This comes after it was discovered a food handler from the delicatessen tested positive for Hep A.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) recommends that members of the public that ate non-pre-packaged food from the Fairway Markets Quadra location on March 18, 19, 20, 22, 25 or 26 should receive the vaccine as a precaution.

They stressed that it does not apply to produce or other foods purchased from other areas of the grocery store or deli items and food products from any of the other seven Fairway Markets outlets in Victoria and other parts of the Island.

The Hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin can prevent hepatitis A virus infection, but only when given within 14 days of exposure, said the VIHA. Persons who have had hepatitis A in the past, or who have previously received two doses of the vaccine are protected from the disease and do not need to be vaccinated.

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Those who have deli products that are not pre-packaged in their homes that were purchased at the delicatessen in the Fairway Markets Quadra location on March 18, 19, 20, 22, 25 or 26 should not consume these items and should dispose of them immediately.

There is a small risk that individuals who consumed food that was not pre-packaged from the delicatessen at the Fairway Markets Quadra location, between March 7-15, may have been exposed to hepatitis A. However, the VIHA said vaccination is not recommended for these individuals as the time period for effective prevention has passed.

Those who consumed unpackaged food from the deli during this time period need to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis A, which include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. These symptoms are followed a few days later by the occurrence of dark-coloured urine, light-coloured stools and jaundice (yellow eyes/skin).

Anyone who develops these symptoms should stay home from school, work, daycare or other activities and avoid preparing food for others. They should also contact a physician or HealthLink BC by dialling 811.

Drop-in immunization clinics for Fairway Markets Quadra location employees and eligible members of the public will take place Sunday April 1, at the Victoria Health Unit, 1947 Cook Street (corner of Cook and Pembroke) from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Individuals who live outside the Victoria area and who are eligible for the vaccine should attend one of the Victoria clinics, or contact their local Public Health Unit to arrange immunization at their local health unit. Contact information for Public Health Units can be found here.

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The public can be assured that it is safe to purchase and consume food from the deli department at the Fairway Markets Quadra location, as well as all other Fairway Markets locations. All potentially contaminated food products have been removed from the store.

Hepatitis A is a virus that affects the liver. The virus can be found in the bowel movements (stool) of infected people. It can spread through close personal contact, or contaminated food that has been handled by an infected person. Frequent, thorough handwashing with warm water and soap for 20 seconds is key to stopping the spread of hepatitis.

Hepatitis A vaccine protects against infection from the hepatitis A virus. In the case of potential food-related exposure, one dose of vaccine is recommended.

More information about hepatitis A and the vaccine is available here.