Health officials in New Zealand have warned people who ate at a restaurant about possible hepatitis A exposure.

Canterbury District Health Board’s public health team are advising people who ate at Madam Woo Christchurch on 255 St Asaph Street at any time on Jan. 15 or 17 that they may have been exposed to to the virus known for attacking the liver.

The infected individual is an employee who was unwell and was sent home on sick leave, according to Madam Woo management.

Vaccination focus
An urgent vaccination is being offered to diners who have not previously been vaccinated for hepatitis A. Those who have already been vaccinated or had the virus are considered to have immunity.

People who ate food from Madam Woo Christchurch — dine in, takeaway or from a meal delivery service — should call the public health team in Christchurch and speak to a health protection officer.

Dr. Ramon Pink, medical officer of health, said there was a limited window of opportunity for vaccinations which will provide the best protection to prevent someone going on to develop Hepatitis A.

People who dined on Jan. 15 have until Jan. 29 to receive the post-exposure vaccination, and those who dined on Jan. 17 have until Jan. 31 to be vaccinated. Anyone who ate food from the restaurant on those days should monitor themselves for symptoms for 50 days.

“The team has been extremely good to work with. It’s important to stress that there is no ongoing risk of infection to anyone who dines at Madam Woo now,” he said.

No ongoing risk
A statement from Madam Woo said it was an isolated incident and there was no ongoing risk at the Christchurch site and there has never been a risk at any other location.

“We are distressed to have been made aware of this potential exposure. We have already been in touch with the diners who we are aware ate at our restaurant on the dates in question, as well as our staff who worked on those dates to advise them of the potential risk – and in line with community and public health have asked them to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Hepatitis A is a contagious virus that can cause liver disease. A hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

Illness usually occurs within 15 to 50 days after eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, jaundice, dark urine, and pale stool.

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