Individual at high school tests positive for hepatitis A virus

5 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — RSU 39 (a school unit consisting of Caribou, Limestone, and Stockholm) and the Maine CDC has put out an alert notifying parents that an individual associated with Caribou High School has been diagnosed with hepatitis A.

A memo on the RSU 39 website from Superintendent Tim Doak indicates that the individual “had no responsibility for any food preparations or handling any food products,” adding that the CDC has “stressed that the risk of infection is extremely low for other individuals in the school department and community.”

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shaw wrote in a letter to parents that this individual “had multiple exposures to the virus that causes hepatitis A, including during out of state travel.”

“There is no risk to the public or to your child from this individual,” Dr. Shaw wrote. “We are informing the school community out of an abundance of caution so that you have accurate information about this case and the disease.”

Dr. Shaw wrote that the virus can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months, and that “older children and adults may have symptoms that can appear quickly and include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dark urine, diarrhea, clay-colored stools, joint-pain, and jaundice (yellow skin or eyes).”

She said that “while this case presents no risk to your child,” parents who notice any of these symptoms developing in their children are urged to contact their primary care provider.

Parents concerned about whether they and their families are up to date on the hepatitis vaccine are being asked to contact their care providers, and to contact the Maine CDC Immunization Program at 800-867-4775 or with any general questions about vaccines.

According to Maine CDC Director of Communications Jackie Farwell, the individual diagnosed “had multiple possible exposures, including out-of-state travel,” and as a result it is “unclear whether it is connected to the previously announced case” at a Caribou eatery in May.

“RSU 39 will continue to work in partnership with the Maine CDC for any further updates,” Doak wrote. “The health and safety of our students and staff remain the school department’s highest priority.”