State officials are warning people who may have patronized a tour boat company in Boothbay Harbor in late August and early this month about possible exposure to an infectious virus.
A food service worker at the company, Cap’n Fish’s Boothbay Harbor Boat Trips, has been diagnosed with an acute case of hepatitis A, a contagious liver disease with symptoms that can range from mild illness to a severe sickness that requires hospitalization and can last several months, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday in a statement.
“The individual prepared food while infectious from August 18, 2019, through September 8, 2019,” the state agency said in the release. Anyone who ate, drank or worked at the business on August 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 28, 29 and 30 “could have been exposed but are outside the window for which a vaccine could help prevent illness from this exposure.”
State officials are recommending the hepatitis A vaccine to anyone who visited the business on September 2, 4, and 5. People with compromised immune systems or parents of children younger than 12 months old should consult their health care providers about receiving the vaccine, hepatitis A immune globulin.
“The vaccine is most effective within 14 days of exposure to the virus,” the Maine CDC said.
Most adults with hepatitis A have a sudden onset of symptoms such as fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, dark urine and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Most children younger than 6 years old do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated, state officials said.
Hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated food or water, especially in food prepared by a person who is infected, the agency said. Symptoms will begin to show between 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus. An infected person is infectious and can spread the virus to others approximately two weeks before his or her symptoms start until one week after the symptoms end.
Maine CDC is working with the tour boat company and local health care providers to notify people exposed to the virus and to minimize risk of further exposure, the agency said.
More information on hepatitis A can be found online at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/index.htm.