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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
CALIFORNIA: Head Start Kids Exposed to Hepatitis
Staff Writer
January 31, 2013
Fox5 San Diego (01.24.13) Aids Weekly Plus

On January 23, 2013, the county of San Diego Health Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported that a person at the Castle Park Head Start program in Chula Vista, Calif., was diagnosed with hepatitis A. HHSA says that parents and staff are being informed of the potential exposure. Staff and children who ate breakfast at the facility at 1375 Third Ave., Chula Vista, between January 7 and 14 are at risk. Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, explained, “The risk to the public is low, but anyone who was at the Head Start who was notified about the exposure should be aware of the signs and symptoms of hepatitis A.” She also advised that persons who have been immunized with hepatitis A vaccine or who have already had the disease are protected from the virus. All those who may have been exposed or who have not had the vaccine should contact their healthcare provider to discuss options for prevention. She explained that early signs and symptoms of hepatitis A appear two to seven weeks after exposure. According to HHSA, the illness varies in severity—mild cases last two weeks or less and more serious cases last four to six weeks or longer. Some people, particularly children, may not develop jaundice or any symptoms; however, mildly sick people can still be very infectious and need to consult a physician. HHSA states that infants routinely receive a hepatitis A vaccine when they reach the age of one, and the vaccine is the preferred preventive treatment for healthy persons up to the age of 40. The hepatitis A vaccine also may be considered in older patients because it provides long-term protection.