April 26, 2009
Media Release

Potential Hepatitis A exposure within York Region

Medical Officer of Health alerts residents to potential exposure and how to reduce risk
NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Karim Kurji, is advising customers who visited the Tim Hortons location at 16545 Yonge Street in the Town of Newmarket (Yonge Street and Savage Road) that they may have been exposed to Hepatitis A if they consumed food from this establishment between Thursday, April 2 and Wednesday, April 22, 2009.
 
An investigation by York Region Public Health at this location has identified two cases of Hepatitis A.  Customers need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A, how they can reduce transmission and if they are eligible to receive a vaccine.  The risk associated with consuming just beverages alone is so low because of packaging and heating that York Region Public Health is not recommending vaccine for customers who only consumed beverages.
 
On Tuesday, April 21st, York Region Public Health received notification of a case of Hepatitis A infection in an employee at this location.  After an investigation, Public Health initially determined that the risk to customers was very low based on the nature of the work of the employee and the results of the inspection of the food handling processes.
 
On Wednesday, April 22nd, Public Health initiated routine contact tracing and offered immunization to fellow workers.  A second symptomatic case was identified in a food handler at the same premise on Friday, April 24th.  The nature of the work of the second case poses higher risk to customers.
 
Public Health requested a high-level disinfection of this location, which was conducted by Tim Hortons yesterday.
 
York Region Public Health will hold a vaccine clinic on Monday, April, 27, 2009 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Newmarket Health Centre, located at 194 Eagle Street in the Town of Newmarket.  People eligible for the vaccine are those customers who consumed food from this location anytime between Monday, April 13 and Wednesday, April 22, 2009.  People who are unable to attend the clinic can receive the vaccine from their health care provider.
 
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis A virus.  Hepatitis vaccine is very effective in reducing the risk of disease when administered within 14 days of the last day of exposure.
 
Hepatitis A is a fairly common, yet rarely fatal disease.  Most people recover without complications after several weeks.
 
The symptoms of Hepatitis A may include fever, a feeling of being unwell, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea and abdominal discomfort.  Urine may become darker in colour and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes) may appear.  Symptoms may appear two to seven weeks after exposure, but usually occur about four weeks after exposure.  People who have pre-existing liver problems, especially those who have Hepatitis C, can become extremely ill if they contract Hepatitis A.  Anyone who experiences these symptoms should see their doctor.
 
People with Hepatitis A pass the virus in their stool (feces).  The most common way the virus spreads to others is through improper hand hygiene.  It is common for the Hepatitis A virus to spread to the household and close contacts of acute cases. 
 
The best way to reduce the risk of transmission to others is through proper hand hygiene.  This is especially important after using the washroom and before handling food.  Anyone who may have been exposed is strongly encouraged to follow this practice to reduce the risk of spreading illness to others.
 
For more information on Hepatitis A, proper hand washing procedures and to discuss vaccine eligibility, please contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.  Health Connection hours have been temporarily extended until 8 p.m. seven days a week.
 
York Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karim Kurji will be available for on-camera interviews on Sunday, April 26, 2009 between 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the York Region Administrative Centre.
 

For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit www.york.ca
 
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region
 Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 4016 Cell: 905 955-2533
 Email: jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca
 

 Nick Javor, Tim Hortons
 Phone:  905 339-6176
 Email:  javor_nick@timhortons.com

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