Customers of a Tim Hortons location in the north end of London, Ont. are being asked to watch for possible symptoms after local health officials say a staff member was recently confirmed to have contracted hepatitis A.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) said in a statement on Wednesday that the case was confirmed by a lab on April 11 involving an employee of the Tim Hortons at 1825 Adelaide St. N., located at the corner of Adelaide Street and Sunningdale Road.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious and vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus.
Health officials say the individual contracted hepatitis A while travelling outside of Canada, and say they are speaking with close contacts and are advising anyone who visited the Tim Hortons store within the last month to watch for signs and symptoms.
“In this case, the risk is very low to the community because the individual practised proper hand hygiene and wore gloves while preparing food. However, if symptoms develop, individuals are directed to contact their healthcare provider,” said Dr. Joanne Kearon, public health resident physician with MLHU, in a statement.
Symptoms of hepatitis A can include fever, body aches, stomach pain, nausea, fatigue, jaundice, and dark tea-coloured urine, the health unit says. Symptoms are usually mild and appear two to seven weeks after infection and usually last less than two months, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to MLHU, hepatitis A is spread by the fecal-oral route, which typically happens through the consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A can also be spread among people living in the same house, or by having sex with someone who is infected.
“People living in the same house and using the same bathroom as the sick person can get sick themselves. People with hepatitis A can pass the virus to others if they do not wash their hands after having a bowel movement or before preparing food for others,” the health unit says on its website.
Those infected with hepatitis A should stay home and rest and contact their health-care provider, the health unit says. Alcohol should be avoided for several months to allow the liver to heal.
Hepatitis A vaccines are available and are recommended for those who plan to travel to areas where hepatitis A infections are more common, and for those who have chronic liver disease. People who recover from a hepatitis A infection are considered to be protected for life.
More information on hepatitis A and the hepatitis A vaccine can be found on the MLHU website.
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