Clearwater Dairy Queen employee diagnosed with hep A, public health alert issued

The Interior Health Authority is warning people who may have eaten at the Dairy Queen in Clearwater during eight days in December that they might have been exposed to hepatitis A.

Interior Health issued in Clearwater area after confirmed case of hepatitis A

The Interior Health Authority issued a public health alert after a Dairy Queen employee in Clearwater was confirmed to have hepatitis A. (Google Streetview)

The Interior Health Authority (IHA) is warning people who may have eaten at the Dairy Queen in Clearwater during eight days in December they might have been exposed to hepatitis A.

The health authority has issued a public health alert warning that anyone who ate or drank at the fast food restaurant at 318 Eden Rd. could be at risk of contracting the disease.

IHA says there's a low, but definite, risk to those patrons. 

The exposure dates are between Dec. 8-11 and Dec.15-18, 2016. 

"We do have a very effective and safe vaccine in the hepatitis A vaccine, and we are therefore recommending those individuals [who] visited the Dairy Queen restaurant ... do consider getting immunized," said medical health officer Dr. Sue Pollock.  

"It's not part of the routine childhood schedule, so fewer people would have likely had the hepatitis A vaccine."

No additional cases yet

The hepatitis A virus can be spread through close contact with an infected person or through contaminated food that has been handled by that person. Symptoms show up 15 to 50 days after exposure. They can include abdominal cramping, jaundice and fevers.

"Most people actually recover from hepatitis A with just supportive care, so there's no specific treatment," said Pollock.

"In many people, it's a mild illness and in some people, it's a more severe illness."

The vaccine can prevent the disease, but only if it's given within two weeks of when a person was exposed to the virus. 

There have been no additional cases reported since the first confirmed case.

IHA says it does not believe there is any ongoing risk in eating at the Clearwater Dairy Queen.

IHA is providing vaccinations clinics in both Clearwater and Kamloops.  

People are also able to access the vaccine by visiting the emergency departments at either Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater or Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops until Dec. 28.

For a full list of contamination dates and when vaccination clinics will be held, visit Interior Health's website.