The County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department has confirmed that three adult residents of the county have been diagnosed with hepatitis A following a private catered event on May 3. The cases appear to be linked to this single common source.
The Public Health Department is actively investigating these cases and contacting people who may have been exposed to the virus to ensure they receive medical attention if needed. The patients, event organizers and caterers are all cooperating with the investigation.
The risk to the general public remains low.
The cases do not appear to be linked to recent state and national outbreaks of hepatitis A among people experiencing homelessness and people who use illicit drugs.
“Hepatitis A can cause serious illness,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, Health Officer of the County of San Luis Obispo. “It’s important to remember this illness can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.”
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by a virus. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. In the United States, hepatitis A usually spreads when a person is exposed to the virus from food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. It can also spread from close personal contact.
For adults and children over age six, signs and symptoms usually start suddenly and include:
Loss of appetite
Yellow skin or eyes (more than 70% of adults with hepatitis A have this symptom, called jaundice)
Dark urine or light-colored stools
If you experience these signs and symptoms, contact your regular health care provider. The Public Health Department is actively contacting people who should be especially alert for signs and symptoms.
Hepatitis A can be prevented by a vaccine. The vaccine is available from regular health care providers, most pharmacies, and from the Public Health Department.
Previously, one case of hepatitis A was diagnosed in SLO County in 2018, and one case in 2017.