DHS is sending you this news release on behalf of the Tillamook County Health Department
Contacts: Robin Watt, Tillamook County (503) 842-3928; DHS Public Health (971) 673-1111
Hepatitis A outbreak traced to Tillamook restaurant
Public health officials in the Tillamook County Health Department and the Oregon Department of Human Services are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A that has been traced to Sharky’s Restaurant in Rockaway Beach.
Persons who ate at Sharky’s between April 15 and April 30 may have been exposed to hepatitis A and could be getting ill now, says Jeff Davis, acting administrator of the Tillamook County Health Department.
“While it is too late to prevent cases resulting from restaurant exposures during that time, this notice may help people recognize early symptoms and get a proper diagnosis sooner,” Davis said. “Household and other close contacts of these individuals may still have time to prevent illness if they act quickly.”
A restaurant worker at Sharky’s was diagnosed with hepatitis A on May 12. Since then, six related cases have been identified as being connected to this individual; five of them ate at the restaurant.
“Although our investigation is ongoing, we believe that persons were exposed by eating contaminated food at the restaurant,” said Davis.
Hepatitis A is a viral disease of the liver. Although illness usually occurs about a month after exposure, the incubation period can be as short as two weeks or as long as two months.
Typical symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, fever, malaise, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). Symptoms can persist for more than a month in some individuals. Some infections are mild or even asymptomatic, particularly among young children.
Hepatitis A is spread from person to person, often by inadequate handwashing after using the toilet, changing diapers or before food preparation. Persons who ate at Sharky’s and who are currently ill with these symptoms should consult with their regular medical care provider or their local health department.
Good handwashing is the secret to preventing hepatitis A and many other illnesses. Persons who have been exposed to hepatitis A virus can be protected if they get an injection of immunoglobulin within two weeks. A vaccine is also available to prevent hepatitis A, according to Davis.
Infection rates with hepatitis A have fallen sharply in Oregon and around the United States since vaccination was introduced in 1995.