Monday, July 20, 2009
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Logan County Department of Public Health assists Rock Island County in hepatitis A outbreak

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[July 20, 2009]  SPRINGFIELD -- On Sunday, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Damon T. Arnold announced the activation of the Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System to assist the Rock Island County Health Department with a vaccination clinic in response to a hepatitis A outbreak. The Logan County Department of Public Health has sent two employees, one registered nurse and one support staff member, to assist the health department in Rock Island.

A food service worker employed by the McDonald's restaurant in Milan and diagnosed with hepatitis A was reported to have worked during his or her infectious period and handled food items that were not subsequently cooked.

The Rock Island County Health Department, with help from the Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System, the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team and the Illinois Nurse Volunteer Emergency Needs Team, will have clinics today and tomorrow.

Clinics scheduled for hepatitis A response

When: Monday, July 20, and Tuesday, July 21
10 a.m.-6 p.m. each day
There will be additional clinics if needed.

Where: Rock Island High School

1400 25th Ave., Rock Island

What: Hepatitis A vaccinations and immune globulin will be administered at no charge.

Who: Eligible recipients are those who meet the following criteria: consumed food or beverages at McDonald's Restaurant in Milan from July 6 through July 10 and July 13 and 14. (People eating there on July 11 and 12 were not exposed.)

Those who consumed products from this restaurant during this time period will receive either hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, not both.

  • Ages 1-40 years will receive hepatitis A vaccine.

  • Under 1 year of age, and over 40 years of age, will receive immune globulin.

If a person has previously received two doses of hepatitis A vaccine, no further immunization or immune globulin is necessary -- they are already protected from hepatitis A. In addition, if someone has been ill in the past from hepatitis A, they would not become ill from it again -- their body would have developed immunity. If a person receives this vaccine or immune globulin more than 14 days after they have eaten at Milan McDonald's, it may not provide protection.

To date, local health departments have reported 18 confirmed cases of hepatitis A to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver and occurs 15 to 50 days after exposure to an infected food item or person. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dark-colored urine and yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes. If you have these symptoms, contact your doctor or a medical professional. However, people who are infected with hepatitis A may have no symptoms but could still potentially infect others.

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"Hepatitis A is a virus that can be carried on the hands of an infected person who does not wash his or her hands thoroughly after using the bathroom. You can become infected by direct contact with a person who does not practice good hand hygiene or by consuming food or drink handled by an infected person," Dr. Arnold said. "Your best defense against getting ill or making others ill is to properly wash your hands -- use soap and warm water and rub your hands for 20 seconds."

Assistance from local health departments for the hepatitis A outbreak was requested through the Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System. The system was created in 2004 in an effort to strengthen the public health system's ability to respond to an emergency. Any local health department in Illinois that has signed a mutual aid agreement in the system can request assistance from any other local health department in Illinois that has signed the agreement.

"We are very fortunate to have a public health mutual aid system in place in Illinois and to have conducted and participated in full-scale exercises for large clinics in recent years," said Wendy Trute, administrator of the Rock Island County Health Department. "Because of this, RICHD has been able to put our pre-existing plans into action in order to meet the public health needs of our community quickly. We are very thankful for the outpouring of additional help from agencies throughout the state of Illinois and Rock Island County's community partners throughout the Quad Cities during this hepatitis A outbreak."

In addition, approximately 25 nurses and support staff from the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team and the Illinois Nurse Volunteer Emergency Needs Team are assisting in the administration of vaccine and immune globulin. Both teams are volunteer organizations with all levels of emergency medical personnel as well as individuals with backgrounds in logistics, communications, safety and information technologies. Their mission it is to respond to and assist with emergency medical treatment during emergencies.

For additional information on hepatitis A, go to

[Text from Illinois Department of Public Health file received from the Logan County Department of Public Health]

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