Confirmed Lake Louise-area hepatitis A case prompts public alert



CALGARY – Alberta Health Services (AHS) has confirmed a case of hepatitis A in an individual who worked at the Powderkeg Lounge (located at the Lake Louise Ski Resort), while infectious.

Patrons who consumed food or hot beverages from the Powderkeg Lounge from Nov. 6 to Nov. 8, 2015 (inclusive) may have been exposed to hepatitis A.

“While we believe the risk to the public is low, hepatitis A is a serious infection,” says Dr. Judy MacDonald, Medical Officer of Health, Alberta Health Services – Calgary Zone. “A vaccine administered within 14 days of exposure can greatly reduce the risk for patrons who consumed food or hot beverages at this location during this timeframe.”

Individuals who have had hepatitis A infection in the past or who have previously received two doses of hepatitis A vaccine are not at risk of infection, and do not need to attend these clinics.

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus that is common in many parts of the developing world. Spread through the fecal-oral route, individuals primarily contract hepatitis A through direct contact with an infected person; however individuals can also contract the illness indirectly by ingestion of contaminated food or water. If an infected individual does not properly wash his/her hands after using the washroom, the virus can be transmitted through food and beverage prepared by the infected individual.

Illness can occur within 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus, but usually does within 28 to 30 days. Individuals can be infectious one to two weeks before symptoms occur until at least one week after the onset of illness.

Symptoms of hepatitis A may include: tiredness; poor appetite; nausea and vomiting; abdominal pain and fever; followed by dark-coloured urine, light-coloured stools, and yellowing of eyes and skin several days later.

Some people, especially young children, may get hepatitis A infection without noticing any symptoms; however, they are still infectious to others.

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A, but it can be prevented through immunization. As always, risk of transmission is reduced through the thorough washing of hands with soap and water before preparing or consuming foods.

For more information on hepatitis A, Albertans can contact Health Link at 811.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.