Health officials warn of possible hepatitis A outbreak in Salt Lake County

Apr 18, 2018, 9:43 PM | Updated: Apr 19, 2018, 12:03 am

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah – Health officials are warning about a possible outbreak of hepatitis A in Salt Lake County. The say the incident is linked to a larger outbreak. This time, there are potentially dozens, if not hundreds, of people that could be affected.

The warning is for customers who may have eaten anything from the Edible Arrangements store near 5200 South State Street. The business will be closed for at least a few days while it’s being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

Dr. Dagmar Vitek, medical director for the Salt Lake County Health Department, said a hepatitis A outbreak started in May 2017. So far in Salt Lake County, there have been 153 cases and two deaths.

“Normally we see about three or four cases a year so definitely our numbers are much higher than what we normally see,” Vitek said.

March 21 through April 13, about 600 arrangements of fruit were sold at the Murray location of Edible Arrangements, the health department estimates.

The latest exposure was announced Wednesday at the Edible Arrangements store. It sells mostly fresh fruit products that are typically given as gifts. An employee infected with hepatitis A was working, while they were sick.

“You develop nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue and then your eyes and skin usually turn yellow,” Vitek said.

Health officials say there were at least 600 products sold between March 21 – April 13, when the employee was at work. However, they believe there could be even more potential cases because the products are usually shared.

“So the 600 number doesn’t mean that that many people were actually exposed,” Vitek said. “The number of exposed individuals is probably much higher than that.”

Health officials don’t know yet how many people may have contracted hepatitis A and say it could take some time before they do.

“From the time you are exposed, it takes about 15 days to 50 days to develop the disease,” Vitek said. “So it might take weeks before we know if there are secondary cases.”

They recommend everyone get the hepatitis A vaccine because the virus can be dangerous.

“Hepatitis A can be a serious disease, especially if you have other medical issues,” Vitek said.

If you believe you might be affected, the Salt Lake County Health Department says to call their hotline at 385-468-INFO (4636).

Already Wednesday, hundreds of people had called the hotline.

Related: Possible hepatitis A exposure at Edible Arrangements in Murray

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Health officials warn of possible hepatitis A outbreak in Salt Lake County