Napa County Public Health reported Thursday that five confirmed cases of Hepatitis A virus have been reported locally.

The source of the infection is under investigation. This is the first time in more than five years that acute Hepatitis A infection has been confirmed in a Napa County resident, the county said.

Two cases involve employees of La Toque restaurant and BANK Café and Bar in The Westin Verasa Napa. The source of these infections is unknown and there are no known cases involving customers, the county said in a news release.

The other three cases have no known association with these locations or other public settings, the county said.

Hepatitis A, a contagious liver disease, is typically transmitted through person to person contact or, more commonly, through ingestion of contaminated food or drink. To protect community health, the Public Health department said it was releasing this information, although officials believe that the risk of contracting Hepatitis A from this potential exposure is very low.

People who consumed food or drink at La Toque restaurant and BANK Café and Bar, which are both located within The Westin Verasa Napa, between Feb. 9 and Feb. 26, may have been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus and should monitor their health status for 50 days after their visit, the county said.

Anyone experiencing Hepatitis A symptoms should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movement, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin).

In a county news release, Ken Frank of LT Napa Partners, which owns and operates La Toque restaurant and BANK Café and Bar, said, “La Toque restaurant and BANK Café and Bar take the health of our guests very seriously. We have strict health standards in place, and we are cooperating fully with Napa County Public Health to identify the source of the virus.”

Don Shindle, general manager of The Westin Verasa Napa, said, “We continue to assist Napa County Public Health and are taking all appropriate measures to ensure the safety of our guests and associates. We are confident that Frank and his team are diligent in following their high standards and working closely with Napa County Public Health.”

Those possibly exposed are urged to be particularly thorough in hand washing after using the bathroom and prior to food preparation to avoid any further spread of illness, health officials said.

Hand washing should include vigorous soaping of the hands. All surfaces should be washed, including the back of the hands, wrists, between fingers and under fingernails. Hands should then be thoroughly rinsed with running water.

Children and adults with Hepatitis A who work with food or attend or work in childcare or school setting should be kept out of work and/or school for seven days after the onset of symptoms.

Hepatitis A results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person comes into contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the material from an infected person, the county said.

Children and adults who have not had Hepatitis A or who have not been fully immunized [received 2 doses of vaccine] are at risk of developing Hepatitis A.

People infected with the Hepatitis A virus can spread it to others during the two weeks before they know they are sick and in the seven days after they develop symptoms. Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A start on average 28 days after exposure, although they may occur 15-50 days after exposure.

For more information on the Hepatitis A outbreak, visit the Napa County website, http://www.countyofnapa.org/.

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