Hepatitis A Alert Impacts Pueblo West Golf Course

Wednesday, the Pueblo City-County Health Department alerted the public to a possible hepatitis A exposure that may have happened on May 31, 2010, at Desert Hawk at Pueblo West golf course.

Health officials say exposed patrons should contact their physician or the Health Department immediately to receive an immunization.

"People who had ice, cold drinks with ice, or cut fruit on May 31, 2010 at Desert Hawk at Pueblo West golf course may be at risk for developing hepatitis A," warned Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods, Public Health Director at the Pueblo City-County Health Department.

Patrons who consumed cold bottled beverages from a vending machine are not at risk. Nevin-Woods adds that anyone at the course who consumed these drinks and ice item(s) on this date should receive an injection of hepatitis A immunization or vaccine by June 11, 2010.

Anyone who may have been exposed can get the immunization through the Pueblo City-County Health Department, 101 W. 9th Street, Pueblo, CO at a walk-in clinic on Thursday, June 10 from noon- 6 p.m. and Friday, June 11 from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. or from their physician.

Both immune globulin (also called gamma globulin) and hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection with hepatitis A virus if given within 14 days of exposure.

Questions and concerns will be addressed by calling the Health Department at 719-583-4942 or 719-583-4531.

The age appropriate dose of hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for healthy persons age 12 months to 40 years old. For people over the age of 40 years, children under the age of 12 months, people with a compromised immune system, or anyone who has been diagnosed with chronic liver disease, and people for whom vaccine is contraindicated--hepatitis A immune globulin is recommended.

Here are the signs and symptoms of the illness:

The early signs and symptoms of hepatitis A appear 2-6 weeks after exposure and commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, dark urine, light color stools and jaundice (yellowness of eyes or skin).

The disease varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting 4-6 weeks or longer. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice, and may have an illness so mild that it can go unnoticed. However, even mildly ill persons can still be highly infectious. Persons with illness suggestive of hepatitis should consult a physician even if symptoms are mild.

Hepatitis A virus is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter - even in microscopic amounts - from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces or stool of an infected person. Persons are at increased risk of acquiring hepatitis A when they have been in close and continuous contact with an infected individual, particularly in a household or day care setting. Fecal matter can remain on the hands unless hands are washed often and thoroughly.

Careful handwashing is key to preventing spread of hepatitis A and should include vigorous washing of hands with soap and running water for minimum of 20 seconds. All surfaces should be washed including the pack of the hands, wrists, between fingers and under fingernails.

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