[Editor’s note: The Signal Tribune is expecting answers concerning the source of the illness and will update this article accordingly. Check back for updates.]
[11:25am UPDATE: There has been no update on where the source of the outbreak originated, according to Emily Holman, communicable-disease control program supervisor.]
The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) announced Friday, Feb. 7 that it is investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A associated with 555 East American Steakhouse in downtown Long Beach.
Several cases of hepatitis A have been confirmed in individuals who ate at the restaurant on or around Dec. 24, 2019, according to a Health Department press release. The source of the illness is still under investigation, and the restaurant’s management and staff are fully cooperating with Health Department officials to prevent further illness.
The restaurant does not pose an ongoing risk to the public at this time, officials said.
“We are notifying the public of the exposure so that people can immediately seek medical care if they begin to develop symptoms,” Dr. Anissa Davis, City Health officer, said. “Individuals who have been vaccinated for hepatitis A or have had the disease are protected. Those who are not immune to hepatitis A should consult their medical provider if they develop symptoms, and let their provider know they may have been exposed to hepatitis A.”
Hepatitis A is an infectious disease of the liver. It is transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water.
Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, dark urine, nausea, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
Once exposed to hepatitis A, if symptoms occur, they usually start appearing four weeks after exposure, but can occur as early as two and as late as seven weeks after exposure. Symptoms usually develop over a period of several days.
Those who contract the disease usually recover completely, but sometimes hepatitis A can lead to hospitalization and severe illness.
The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine, the Health Department stated. In addition, individuals can avoid infection by practicing good hand hygiene–– including thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers and before preparing or eating food.
Individuals who ate at 555 East American Steakhouse on or around Christmas Eve last year should contact their medical provider if they develop symptoms.
Emily Holman, communicable-disease control program supervisor with the Health Department, told the Signal Tribune that “we have not had any hepatitis A outbreaks in recent history.”
For more information on hepatitis A, visit www.longbeach.gov/hepa or call the Long Beach Health Department 562.570.7907.