Hepatitis A Reported in Michigan Whole Foods Employee


An employee in the prepared foods section of a Whole Foods Market in Detroit, Michigan, has been diagnosed with hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A cases continue to make headlines as different states across the country continue to report outbreaks. The newest reported case is in Detroit, Michigan, where a Whole Foods Market employee, working in the prepared food section of the store, has just been diagnosed with the infection while another case is under further investigation by the Detroit Health Department.

Although the Detroit Health Department has not yet linked the cases to a source, they have considered that the second case may be connected to the first. The second case is in a Detroit resident who had consumed food from the prepared foods section that the first infected employee may have prepared, according to an advisory provided by the Detroit Health Department.

Due to this potential risk, the Detroit Health Department recommends that any individual who consumed food from the prepared foods section at the Whole Foods Market Detroit location between October 6 and October 12, 2016, should seek preventive treatment in order to adequately protect themselves from acquiring the infection. A post-exposure vaccine has proven effective to prevent anyone exposed to the infection from actually acquiring the disease, if received before two weeks’ time, post-exposure.

The Detroit Health Department is offering the post-exposure vaccine is at The Samaritan Center and the The Family Place from October 20 to October 26, 2016. These clinics are open Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM.

In addition to providing preventive treatment and health evaluation to the public, the Detroit Health Department also evaluated and treated the staff of Whole Foods Market Detroit.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, executive director and health officer at the Detroit Health Department commented in the advisory, “While it remains unclear exactly how either of these individuals contracted Hepatitis A, and we know that Whole Foods Market Detroit has a comprehensive food safety protocol, we want to do our best to protect our residents and those of surrounding communities who may have been exposed. Whole Foods has been nothing but cooperative throughout this process.”

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious disease that can be transmitted by eating any food or water that has been contaminated with the hepatitis A virus, or through contact with an infected individual. Due to the fact that the virus has such a long incubation period, those infected with the virus do not always present with the common symptoms (nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, yellowing of the skin or eyes, fever); this means that they can be unknowingly transmitting the infection to others.

In a collaborative effort with the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, the Detroit Health Department will continue to monitor for and investigate additional cases as they arise.

You can continue to monitor the outbreak through Contagion’s Outbreak Monitor.

Feature Picture Source: Open Grid Scheduler/ Grid Engine / flickr / Creative Commons.

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