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Superstore Hep A case update: Public Health has been vaccinating 70 people an hour

Real Canadian Superstore parent company, Loblaw, issues statement on hepatitis A case, encouraging customers to return products

Public Health Sudbury and Districts says it has been providing about 70 vaccines an hour to people who think they may have come in contact with hepatitis A after a grocery store deli worker tested positive for the virus.

The health unit began offering a free drop-in vaccination clinic at its Paris Street location on the evening of Dec. 17. That continued today starting at 9 a.m. As of this writing, more than 500 people had received the shot, with a steady stream lining up to get theirs.

Meanwhile, Loblaw says it is working closely with Public Health Sudbury and Districts in the wake of the confirmed case of hepatitis A in a deli worker at the Real Canadian Superstore on Lasalle Boulevard in New Sudbury.

Loblaw is the parent company of Real Canadian Superstore.

The case of hepatitis A was reported to Public Health on Dec. 15. The infected individual is an employee of the deli department at the Real Canadian Superstore located at 1485 Lasalle Blvd.

Catherine Thomas, senior director of external communications for Loblaw, issued a statement to today.

"We’re working closely with the local Public Health to ensure the safety of our customers and colleagues," Thomas wrote in an email. "We’ve discarded all potentially impacted product and completed a full clean of our deli, equipment and shared spaces in the store. 

"Customers with impacted product in their house should discarded it or return it to the store. Anyone with further questions or concerns should contact Public Health."

Anyone who consumed clerk-served deli meat or cheese, or meat and cheese from prepared deli trays purchased from the Superstore between Nov. 27 and 1:30 p.m. Dec. 16 could be at risk of hepatitis A infection and Public Health is strongly recommending you get vaccinated.

Individuals who ate the foods more than 14 days ago are advised to contact public health, monitor their health for signs and symptoms, and follow up with their health care provider if symptoms develop.

Public Health began offering free vaccination clinics on Dec. 17. The drop-in vaccination clinics are being offered at the public health offices at 1300 Paris Street, no appointment necessary. Parking is free on-site.

The clinic schedule is as follows:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 18, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 19, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 20, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 21, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 22, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The Mayo Clinic website page on the virus states it commonly spreads through food or drink contaminated with fecal matter. It only takes a small amount for infection to occur. It is not spread through sneezing or coughing.

Mild cases of hep A don't need treatment and most people who are infected recover on their own with no liver damage.

Symptoms include fatigue, sudden nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and discomfort (especially upper right side beneath the ribs, where your liver is), clay-coloured bowel movements, loss of apetite, low-grade fever, dark urine, joint pain, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice) and intense itching.

Sometimes, the infection can result in severe illness that persists for months.

Getting a hepatitis A vaccine within two weeks of exposure to the virus may protect you from infection. Public Health does recommend you receive the vaccine if you consumed clerk-served deli products (meat and cheese) from the Superstore within the past two weeks.