Hepatitis A confirmed at Wetaskiwin Christmas dinner

Those who attended a Christmas dinner in Wetaskiwin last month are being asked to watch for signs of a hepatitis A infection.

Volunteer at Wetaskiwin Mission Church was infected at the time, says AHS

Health authorities are advising those who attended a Christmas dinner in Westaskiwin last month to watch for signs of a hepatitis A infection.

A volunteer at the Wetaskiwin Mission Church Christmas dinner on Dec. 20 was infectious at the time, and guests who attended may have been exposed to the virus, Alberta Health Services said in a news release.

"While we believe the risk to the public is low, hepatitis A is a serious infection," AHS medical officer of health, Dr. Ifeoma Achebe, said. "As a precaution, anyone who attended the dinner is advised to monitor themselves and their family for symptoms until Feb. 7, 2016."

Anyone who develops symptoms from Jan. 3 to Feb. 7 is asked to immediately contact Health Link at 811.

Hepatitis A infects the liver, and is spread through direct contact with an infected person or by eating food contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Illness occurs between 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus, and those who are infected can be contagious up to two weeks before and one week after symptoms occur.

Symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, fever, dark-coloured urine and light stools, and the yellowing of skin and eyes.

There is no treatment for the virus, but it can be prevented through immunization.

Anyone who has had hepatitis A in the past or who has previously been immunized with two doses of hepatitis A vaccine is not at risk of infection, AHS said.

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