The Star-Herald

SAD 27 in Fort Kent confirms individual diagnosed with Hepatitis A

FORT KENT, Maine — Officials from SAD 27 confirmed on Saturday that an individual associated with Fort Kent Elementary School has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A, the fourth confirmed Hepatitis A case to occur in Aroostook County within the past month.

In a letter sent to parents on June 15, SAD 27 superintendent Benjamin Sirois stated that there is a low risk to the public, students and staff but that parents should be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with the disease.

The Fort Kent case of Hepatitis A follows one that the Maine CDC confirmed for Presque Isle, in connection with an employee of the Mai Tai Restaurant. In May local clinics gave nearly 1,000 vaccinations to customers of the Burger Boy restaurant in Caribou after the CDC confirmed that an employee had served food while infected.

Recently RSU 39 in Caribou alerted parents and staff that an individual associated with Caribou High School had been diagnosed with hepatitis A. While there is no risk to students or the public, RSU 39 officials encouraged parents to reach out to their child’s primary care provider if they see signs or symptoms of the disease.

Sirois’ letter did not specify where the individual from Fort Kent Elementary School might have contracted the illness.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms range from mild illness to a severe sickness that requires hospitalization and can last several months.

Most adults with hepatitis A have a sudden onset of symptoms such as tiredness, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, dark urine and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). The majority of children younger than 6 do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated.

Hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated food or water, especially in food prepared by a person who is infected. Symptoms begin to show 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus. An infected person can spread the virus to others approximately two weeks before symptoms start until one week after symptoms end.

For information on hepatitis A, visit cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/index.htm.

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