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Hepatitis Scare at Wolfgang Puck Parties

What a story to wake up to: An employee of Wolfgang Puck's catering division was diagnosed with acute Hepatitis A, and that he/she prepared food for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue party that took place at the Pacific Design Center on Feb. 14. (so glad we didn't go!). Anyone at that party is at risk and was told to receive a globulin shot by today to prevent illness. (One email we received about the hep hoopla spreads says there's a shortage of globulin, so people will have to get Hep A shots instead, but that's a whole other story.)

But depending on who you believe--the host magazine of the party or the gossip site angling to make everyone who didn't get sick at the party sick with their special brand of spew---Puck catered anywhere from three to 14 events between Feb. 14 to Feb. 20. Guests from all events are reportedly being contacted. According to public health officials, there's no risk to anyone who ate food prepared after Feb. 20, most notably, those at the Academy Awards Governor's Ball on Sunday night. However, those at events earlier in the month could be at risk for the disease but past the time period when globulin shots will be effective. No Puck restaurants are at risk, which gets a big Phew! from us since we were at Spago last week.
· Hepatitis A Warning for SI Party [Sports Illustrated]
· The Clock is Ticking Tick Tick Tick [TMZ]

For Immediate Release:
February 27, 2007 For more information contact:
DHS Communications
(213) 240-8144 Pager: (213) 990-7107
media@ladhs.org

Hepatitis A Case in Worker at Wolfgang Puck Catering Attendees at small number of events are urged to receive immune globulin LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has been alerted that an employee at the Wolfgang Puck Catering facility in Hollywood has been diagnosed with acute hepatitis A. Public Health is investigating the situation and is working closely with the management of Wolfgang Puck Catering to determine which patrons may be at risk.

PLEASE NOTE: No restaurants or Express Cafes owned and operated by Wolfgang Puck or Wolfgang Puck pre-packaged foods are affected by this situation and restaurant patrons are not at risk.

Event hosts and the Department of Public Health are contacting attendees who ate uncooked food provided at four events that occurred between February 14 and February 20. These are within the 14 day window for administration of immune globulin (IG) to prevent illness, and it is recommended that these individuals receive this prophylactic medication, although the risk to any individual is quite low. There is no risk to any person who ate food prepared after February 20.

The largest of these four events was the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Party on February 14 at the Pacific Design Center, located at 8687 Melrose Avenue West Hollywood, California 90069. It is recommended that Individuals who attended this party and ate uncooked food there should receive immune globulin (IG) to prevent the development of acute hepatitis A by February 28.

Individuals who consumed food at the other three events that occurred in the last two weeks are being contacted by the Public Health Department and/ or their hosts and being urged to contact their physician to receive immune globulin (IG) if they have not already been immunized against hepatitis A or had the disease in the past.

The Department of Public Health will open clinics (see list attached) on February 28 to provide immune globulin to patrons who may not be able to receive this from their physician. Persons eating at the Sports Illustrated party should receive immune globulin no later than February 28. Other patrons should receive immune globulin as soon as possible, but no later than two weeks after possible exposure. Patrons can also locate a clinic by calling the following information lines: 1-800-427-8700 or 211.

The Public Health Department identified 9 other events in which the affected food handler was involved in food preparation during the period when that individual may have been infectious. However these individuals are beyond the 14 day period for administration of immune globulin. Hosts and organizers of these events are also being notified so that they can share with their guests the need to see a physician if they experience symptoms of hepatitis A so that they can receive appropriate care and their close contacts can receive prophylaxis.

The Department's Environmental Health staff inspected the catering company and found no problems. "The company has been exemplary in their response to this situation. Quick action on their part has minimized the number of patrons that may have been exposed to Hepatitis A. They have been fully cooperative," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Director of Public Health and County Health Officer.

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice [yellow skin or eyes], fatigue, fever and chills, accompanied by abdominal pain or vomiting or diarrhea light color stool or dark urine. If hepatitis A is diagnosed, it is essential that their physician notify the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

"Prompt diagnosis will allow for IG to be given to close contacts of cases and will allow Public Health to identify and investigate cases of acute hepatitis A," said Laurene Mascola, MD, MPH, Chief, Acute Communicable Disease Control program in Public Health.

Wolfgang Puck Catering employees are receiving immune globulin and health education about acute hepatitis A from Public Health.

Hepatitis A virus is spread by close physical contact and through fecal contamination of food or drink. Close contacts, including household and sexual partners, are at risk for acquiring hepatitis A from an infected person. The incubation period is 2 to 7 weeks. It is important to be diagnosed promptly - treatment with immune globulin (IG) can be given to close contacts to protect them from getting hepatitis A. Thorough handwashing with soap and hot water after using the toilet and before handling food is the most important factor in preventing the spread of the disease.

Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $700 million.


County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health Public Health Centers that provide immunization services The following clinics are listed in alphabetical order:

Antelope Valley Public Health Center 335-B East Avenue K-6 Lancaster, CA 93535 (661) 723-4624
Pacoima Public Health Center 13300 Van Nuys Blvd. Pacoima, CA 91331 (818) 896-1903
Central Public Health Center 241 N. Figueroa Street Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 240-8204
Pomona Public Health Center 750 S. Park Avenue Pomona, CA 91766 (909) 868-0235
Curtis-Tucker Public Health Cente 123 W. Manchester Blvd. Inglewood, CA 90301 (310) 419-5325
South Public Health Center 1522 E. 102nd Street Los Angeles, CA 90002 (323) 563-4053
Glendale Public Health Center 501 N. Glendale Ave Glendale, CA 91206 (818) 500-5750 Torrance Public Health Center 711 Del Amo Blvd. Torrance, CA 90502 (310) 354-2300 Hollywood/Wilshire Public Health Center 5205 Melrose Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90038 (323) 769-7800
Whittier Public Health Center 7643 S. Painter Avenue Whittier, CA 90602 (562) 464-5350
Monrovia Public Health Center 330 W. Maple Avenue Monrovia, CA 91016 (626) 256-1600

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