Philadelphia Health Department Confirms Hepatitis A Case at Local ShopRite, Urges Vaccination

Medical/Healthcare News© Jae Young Ju / Getty Images / Canva

PHILADELPHIA, PA — In a development that has prompted public health action, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health confirmed Friday that an employee at the ShopRite located at Oxford and Levick has acute Hepatitis A. The store, fully aware of the situation, is working collaboratively with the health department.

While no additional illnesses have been reported and no other stores are affected, the Health Department is taking preventive measures to contain any potential spread of the virus. The risk of Hepatitis A infection remains low. However, the department recommends vaccination for individuals who handled or consumed raw or undercooked beef or pork purchased from the store’s meat counter between January 4th and January 21st, 2024. Those who have previously had two doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine or have had the disease in the past do not need to be vaccinated.

To facilitate this, the Health Department will offer free Hepatitis A vaccines on Saturday, January 27th, from 8:00 am to noon at District Health Center #10. Individuals can also contact their healthcare provider’s office or visit a pharmacy to receive the vaccine. For those needing assistance, the Health Department can be reached at 215-685-5488 during business hours.

As a precautionary measure, the department advises discarding any beef or pork purchased during the specified period and subsequently frozen. Heating food and liquids to temperatures of 185°F (85°C) for at least one minute can kill the virus, but freezing does not.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection that can spread when an infected person fails to thoroughly wash hands after using the bathroom and then prepares food. The virus can be spread from two weeks before symptoms appear until one week after they begin. Symptoms, which typically develop two to six weeks after exposure, range from mild diarrhea and vomiting to more severe jaundice. Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, stomach pain, and dark urine. While many people recover at home, some cases may require hospitalization.

Preventing Hepatitis A primarily involves vaccination and practicing good hand hygiene. More than one shot is needed to get the full benefit of the Hepatitis A vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers comprehensive information on Hepatitis A on their website.

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