It’s not just for travelers and people at risk anymore.
I spent the last day meeting with the family of a woman that died too young from complications of Hepatitis A after eating tainted scallops from the Philippines. I represent nearly 80 others from that same outbreak – many who have been hospitalized, and even months after consuming scallops, they are still not back to normal health. Over the years I have represented hundreds of others who became ill from this vaccine preventable foodborne illness. Think about some of the outbreaks in the recent past:
And, let’s not forget the dozens of outbreaks that have been caused by ill food handlers – many who have recently returned from vacation in areas where Hepatitis A is common. Over the years I have become a bit of a broken record (that saying shows my age) advocating for vaccinating food service workers. Recall, people are most infectious before they show symptoms or feel ill. So, before a restaurant owner knows he has a problem that can damage customers and business the problem is already a problem. In 2000, I represented dozens of people sickened after consuming sandwiches at a Seattle area Subway – one young boy required a liver transplant. The cause was an employee who returned from vacation with a brewing Hepatitis A illness.
Fact: Hepatitis A is endemic in most of the world except the United States and Western Europe.
The CDC suggests that a Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for: “All children at age 1 year, Travelers to countries that have high rates of Hepatitis A, Family members or caregivers of a recent adoptee from countries where Hepatitis A is common, Men who have sexual contact with other men, Users of injection and non-injection illegal drugs, People with chronic (lifelong) liver diseases, such as Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, People who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates and People who work with Hepatitis A infected animals or in a Hepatitis A research laboratory.”
However, the CDC also says that that you can contract Hepatitis A “through direct person-to-person contact (fecal-oral transmission); contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested from sewage-contaminated water; or from contaminated raw, inadequately cooked, or frozen fruits, vegetables, or other foods.”
So, getting a Hepatitis A vaccine is not just for travelers and people at risk anymore. It is for everyone that eats imported food items from areas where Hepatitis A is endemic. You do not need to travel to be at risk, now the risk is imported for your consumption.
I would urge the CDC to add consumers of imported “shellfish harvested from sewage-contaminated water; or from contaminated raw, inadequately cooked, or frozen fruits, vegetables, or other foods” to its list of who should be vaccinated.