NEWS

200 people attend hepatitis A vaccine clinic

04/12/2015 05:54 EDT | Updated 06/17/2015 02:59 EDT
About 200 people took the advice of health officials and got vaccinated on Sunday, after learning they could have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.

Toronto Public Health had advised the public over the weekend that anyone who had consumed juice from The Big Carrot Natural Food Market at 348 Danforth Ave., between March 17 and April 2 could be at risk of exposure.

That's because an employee who works at the juice bar had contracted the virus.

Sarah Dobec, public relations co-ordinator for The Big Carrot, told reporters Sunday that it appears the employee contracted the virus while travelling outside Canada on a vacation.

"The Big Carrot is working closely with [Toronto] Public Health to ensure that this incident is handled thoroughly," said Dobec.

On Sunday, a vaccination clinic was set up for two hours at the East York Civic Centre, so that people who had been to the juice bar could get their shots.

Rita Shahin, an associate medical officer with Toronto Public Health, said that health officials feel the risk of infection for the juice-bar customers is very low.

"We don't want people to be very concerned," she told CBC News on Sunday. "We think the risk is quite low that they may pick up hepatitis A through consuming juice, but even though the risk is low, it's not zero. That's why we're here offering the vaccine clinic to folks."

Shahin said that the hepatitis A virus is typically transmitted through contaminated food or water.

She said that the virus is not common in Canada. It is more often seen in places where the water systems or food may be contaminated.

Most people who develop hepatitis as a result of the virus recover completely within a few weeks.

"It's not a chronic disease like hepatitis B or C," she said.

Shahin said that it can cause symptoms that include fever, nausea and vomiting. She said it can also cause jaundice.

Anyone who was unable to attend the vaccine clinic who believes they may have acquired hepatitis A should contact Toronto Public Health or their health provider as soon as possible.

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