Hepatitis A warning issued for Lake Louise Ski Resort lounge patrons

Health officials say an employee at Lake Louise Ski Resort worked in food service while infectious with hepatitis A.

Exposure possible for customers who ate or drank at Powderkeg Lounge from Nov. 6 to Nov. 8

Alberta Health Services is offering free Hepatitis A vaccine to people who may have been exposed at the Powderkeg Lounge at Lake Louise Ski Resort. (Lake Louise Ski Resort)

Health officials say an employee at Lake Louise Ski Resort worked in food service while infectious with hepatitis A.

Anyone who ate food or drank hot beverages at the resort's Powderkeg Lounge from Nov. 6 to Nov. 8, inclusive, may have been exposed to the virus and is advised to get a free vaccine.

People who only consumed cold beverages at the lounge are not at risk of exposure, according to Alberta Health Services (AHS).

It's not known how many people could be at risk by having eaten at the lounge, but there were 2,000 to 3,000 skiers at the resort over that weekend, said AHS medical officer of health Dr. Judy MacDonald.

It's too early for someone who has become infected through exposure at the lounge to be contagious, she said.

A provincial environment and public health inspector has been to the ski resort to make sure there is no ongoing risk of infection.

"While we believe the risk to the public is low, hepatitis A is a serious infection," MacDonald said.

"A vaccine administered within 14 days of exposure can greatly reduce the risk for patrons who consumed food or hot beverages at this location during this timeframe."

Where to get the vaccine

For those who may have been exposed, AHS is offering free vaccine clinics on Friday and Saturday at clinics in Banff and Calgary.

In Calgary, the clinic will be held at the Brentwood Village Mall, 3630 Brentwood Road N.W., between 11 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. on Friday and from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m on Saturday.

In Banff, the clinic will be held at the Banff Public Health Office, 303 Lynx Street, at the same times.

Anyone attending the clinics is asked to bring a health care card, photo ID, and immunization records, if possible. (Immunization records are not required to be seen.)

Anyone who has had a hepatitis A infection in the past or who has previously received two doses of hepatitis A vaccine is not at risk of infection, according to AHS, and does not need to attend the clinics.

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver.

"Spread through the fecal-oral route, individuals primarily contract hepatitis A through direct contact with an infected person," AHS said in a release.

People can also contract the illness indirectly by eating contaminated food or drinking a contaminated beverage, AHS noted.

"If an infected individual does not properly wash his/her hands after using the washroom, the virus can be transmitted through food and beverage prepared by the infected individual."

MacDonald says the infected person is recovering well. 


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