February 1, 2011
December 2011 Update: For the latest information, please visit the Hepatitis A page.
COWICHAN – Hepatitis A has been circulating in the Cowichan Valley over the past several months. With 12 of 22 cases occurring in school-aged children, hepatitis A immunizations are being recommended for all Cowichan Valley school-age children and preschool children over one year of age who have not had confirmed hepatitis A illness or two doses of hepatitis A vaccine in the past.
Information about how children can receive vaccinations will be sent home through Cowichan Valley-based schools in the coming days.
Hepatitis A is a virus that affects the liver. The virus can be found in the bowel movements of infected people. It can spread through close personal contact or contaminated food that has been handled by an infected person.
Symptoms of hepatitis A, include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. These symptoms are followed a few days later by the occurrence of dark-coloured urine, light-coloured stools, and jaundice (yellow eyes/skin). Anyone who develops these symptoms should stay home from school, work, daycare or other activities and avoid preparing food for others. They should also contact a physician, community health nurse or HealthLink BC by dialing 811.
All hepatitis A cases in the Cowichan Valley have recovered or are recovering. Immunization has been offered to all close contacts of cases.
Hepatitis A vaccine is not a routine childhood immunization in BC, and most people will not have received this vaccine in the past. Some people with high risk health conditions, for example, liver disease, or who have received travel vaccinations, or who were contacts of cases, may have been offered vaccination on an individual basis. Vaccination for Hepatitis B, a different disease, is offered routinely to infants and children, but does not provide protection against Hepatitis A.
Immunization drop-in clinics for preschoolers and school-aged children will take place:
Friday, February 18, Island Savings Centre, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, February 19, Island Savings Centre, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
An immunization clinic by appointment only will take place:
Wednesday, February, 23, Margaret Moss Health Unit, 675 Canada Avenue, 1:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Please call the Health Unit at 250-709-3050 to book an appointment.
More information about hepatitis A and the vaccine is available at:
– 30 –