October 14, 2006
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will be offering free shots to prevent hepatitis A to anyone who patronized the Sonic Drive-in in Hereford at any time from Oct. 1 through Oct. 13. An employee of the drive-in, at 305 North 25 Mile Ave., has been diagnosed with the viral illness and may have passed the virus on to others.
Immune globulin shots, which contain antibodies to the illness, can prevent hepatitis A illness if given in time, ideally within 14 days of exposure.
Shots will be offered in the Hereford Independent School District administration building, 601 North 25 Mile Ave., from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday (Oct. 16) and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday (Oct. 19). Parents should bring their children’s vaccination record if available.
Anyone with questions about the need to receive the shot should call the DSHS office in Canyon, (806) 655-7151, after 8 a.m. Monday. Anyone with hepatitis A symptoms should not report for the immune globulin shot but instead should contact a physician for possible treatment of symptoms and to assess the need for immune globulin shots for family members or other close contacts.
Health officials stressed that there is no connection between the illness and Hereford schools. The HISD facility is a predesignated site for administering shots and other medications to the public. They also said there is no longer an increased risk of contracting hepatitis A at the Hereford Sonic and that no other Sonic locations are implicated.
Sonic customers who have had hepatitis A or have been vaccinated against hepatitis A prior to Sept. 1 do not need the immune globulin shot.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine and abdominal discomfort. Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes, may occur a few days after initial symptoms appear. Symptoms normally last a week or two and can last longer.
DSHS reports three recent cases of the illness in Deaf Smith County, including the Sonic employee. There have been no other cases reported in the county in 2006 or in 2005. No illnesses linked to the Sonic employee have been reported.
Hepatitis A is usually spread person-to-person via a fecal-oral transmission route and typically occurs when a person consumes foods or beverages contaminated by someone with the virus.
Thorough hand washing after visits to the restroom, before touching food or drink and after changing a diaper is the best way to control the spread of hepatitis A.
The incubation period, or time between exposure and symptoms, is typically 28 days.
Severe complications from hepatitis A are rare and occur more frequently in people who have liver disease or weakened immune systems.
(News media: for more information contact Doug McBride, DSHS Press Officer, Austin, 512-458-7524; or David Dickerson, DSHS Canyon Office, 806-341-6979.)