Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a virus that affects the liver. The virus can be found in the bowel movements (stool) of infected people. It can spread through close personal contact, or contaminated food that has been handled by an infected person. Infants under six months and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk of complications associated with Hepatitis A.

The Hepatitis A vaccine is very effective in preventing infection. It is also important to wash your hands often. If you have recovered from Hepatitis A, you are protected from getting the infection again.

For more info, read the BC Health File: Hepatitis A Vaccine 

Information Update: March 17, 2015

Hepatitis A immunizations were offered to eligible members of the public and employees of the Nanaimo Superstore who consumed raw produce or unwrapped food that was not further cooked and was purchased from that store on specific dates in February and March, 2015. This followed confirmation that a cashier at the store had tested positive for the disease.

About the vaccine 

  • When given within 14 days of exposure, Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection from the virus.
  • People who have had hepatitis A in the past, or previously received two doses of the vaccine, are protected and will not benefit from further vaccination.
  • For food-related exposures like this, one dose of vaccine is recommended to prevent disease.

Possible exposure

  • There is a small risk that individuals who consumed raw produce or other foods that were not wrapped when purchased at the Nanaimo Superstore location, on the late afternoon or evening of February 5, 8, 12, 15, 18, 25, 26, 27, March 1 (all day) or 4, 2015, may have been exposed to hepatitis A.
  • Vaccination is no longer provided for individuals who only purchased food on these days, as the time period for effective prevention has passed. 
  • Individuals who still have produce that is eaten raw or foods that were not wrapped when purchased at the Nanaimo Superstore location at the above times should not consume these items and should dispose of them immediately. Please do not return items to Superstore.
  • All Individuals who consumed unpackaged food from the Nanaimo Superstore during these days should be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis A, which include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. These symptoms are followed a few days later by 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 their doctor or HealthLink BC by dialing 811. Symptoms usually occur 15-50 days after exposure.
  • Patrons who used the self-checkout are not considered to be at risk.
  • This alert DOES NOT apply to food products from any other Superstore outlets.

How to prevent spread

  • Food supplies where the skin/surface is also consumed, like fruits and vegetables, should be thoroughly washed to prevent diseases.
  • Frequent, thorough hand washing with warm water and soap for 20 seconds is another key to stopping the spread of hepatitis.

The public can be assured that it is safe to purchase and consume food from the Nanaimo Superstore location, as well as other Superstore locations.