Hepatitis A Case in Worker at Wolfgang Puck Catering

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The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has been alerted that an employee at the Wolfgang Puck Catering facility in Hollywood has been diagnosed with acute hepatitis A. Public Health is investigating the situation and is working closely with the management of Wolfgang Puck Catering to determine which patrons may be at risk.

PLEASE NOTE: No restaurants or Express Cafes owned and operated by Wolfgang Puck or Wolfgang Puck pre-packaged foods are affected by this situation and restaurant patrons are not at risk.

Event hosts and the Department of Public Health are contacting attendees who ate uncooked food provided at four events that occurred between February 14 and February 20. These are within the 14 day window for administration of immune globulin (IG) to prevent illness, and it is recommended that these individuals receive this prophylactic medication, although the risk to any individual is quite low. There is no risk to any person who ate food prepared after February 20.

The largest of these four events was the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Party on February 14 at the Pacific Design Center, located at 8687 Melrose Avenue West Hollywood, California 90069. It is recommended that Individuals who attended this party and ate uncooked food there should receive immune globulin (IG) to prevent the development of acute hepatitis A by February 28.

Individuals who consumed food at the other three events that occurred in the last two weeks are being contacted by the Public Health Department and/ or their hosts and being urged to contact their physician to receive immune globulin (IG) if they have not already been immunized against hepatitis A or had the disease in the past.

The Department of Public Health will open clinics (see list attached) on February 28 to provide immune globulin to patrons who may not be able to receive this from their physician. Persons eating at the Sports Illustrated party should receive immune globulin no later than February 28. Other patrons should receive immune globulin as soon as possible, but no later than two weeks after possible exposure. Patrons can also locate a clinic by calling the following information lines: 1-800-427-8700 or 211.

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The Public Health Department identified 9 other events in which the affected food handler was involved in food preparation during the period when that individual may have been infectious. However these individuals are beyond the 14 day period for administration of immune globulin. Hosts and organizers of these events are also being notified so that they can share with their guests the need to see a physician if they experience symptoms of hepatitis A so that they can receive appropriate care and their close contacts can receive prophylaxis.

The Department's Environmental Health staff inspected the catering company and found no problems. "The company has been exemplary in their response to this situation. Quick action on their part has minimized the number of patrons that may have been exposed to Hepatitis A. They have been fully cooperative," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Director of Public Health and County Health Officer.

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice [yellow skin or eyes], fatigue, fever and chills, accompanied by abdominal pain or vomiting or diarrhea light color stool or dark urine. If hepatitis A is diagnosed, it is essential that their physician notify the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

"Prompt diagnosis will allow for IG to be given to close contacts of cases and will allow Public Health to identify and investigate cases of acute hepatitis A," said Laurene Mascola, MD, MPH, Chief, Acute Communicable Disease Control program in Public Health.

Wolfgang Puck Catering employees are receiving immune globulin and health education about acute hepatitis A from Public Health.

Hepatitis A virus is spread by close physical contact and through fecal contamination of food or drink. Close contacts, including household and sexual partners, are at risk for acquiring hepatitis A from an infected person. The incubation period is 2 to 7 weeks. It is important to be diagnosed promptly - treatment with immune globulin (IG) can be given to close contacts to protect them from getting hepatitis A. Thorough handwashing with soap and hot water after using the toilet and before handling food is the most important factor in preventing the spread of the disease.

Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $700 million.

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