Customers of Jerry’s Famous Deli, an LA institution near the UCLA campus, may be at risk for developing hepatitis A infection if they ate there during the month of November.  An employee of the Westwood deli, located at 10925 Weyburn Ave., was diagnosed with acute hepatitis A, a virus that is spread by close physical contact and through fecal contamination of food or drink.  The Los Angeles Public Health Department has yet to receive any further reports of hepatitis A related to the deli.

The Department issued a press release today: 

Patrons who ate sandwiches at the restaurant or who ate catered sandwiches from this location on November 18, 21, 23, or 24, 2010, should receive an immune globulin (IG) shot or a hepatitis A vaccination no later than 14 days after their exposure to prevent or reduce illness.

Public Health will make the IG shot and hepatitis A vaccine available through certain public health clinics

People who were exposed to the virus at Jerry’s during November can find a list of area clinics providing IG shots here.  Nevertheless, it may be a little late for vaccination to be effective for some people.  IG shots only protect exposed people who receive them within a narrow window of time before they develop symptoms, usually within just a couple of weeks of exposure.  Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include jaundice (a yellow color to the eyes or skin), nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, abdominal cramps, dark-colored urine, fatigue and light-colored bowel movements. 

We’re about 5 years post a major hepatitis A outbreak that occurred in LA amongst cast members of the Hollywood film, "The Good German." This cluster of cases led the Los Angeles County Health Department to conduct an investigation. A case-control study showed that case patients were more likely to have eaten baby mixed green lettuce or jerk chicken than the persons who remained well. All food handlers were tested and showed no evidence of recent Hepatitis A infection. Jerk chicken was ruled out as a cause of illness, so investigators concluded that lettuce was the most likely vehicle. The food was provided by Silver Grill Location Catering whose vegetables were from Soleil Produce.