PASSAIC, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Teachers and employees at Passaic High School are being offered hepatitis A vaccinations after an employee was diagnosed with the contagious infection.
The employee reportedly worked in the teacher’s cafeteria. The vaccinations are voluntary and on Thursday will be offered to anyone who purchased food in the cafeteria between Jan. 15 and Jan. 30.
The district said students are not included on the list of people most likely to be infected, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
The school’s 3,000 students eat in a different cafeteria and based on a health department assessment there is no reason to believe the virus spread there, School Superintendent Pablo Munoz told The Record newspaper. Munoz says there’s been no spike in absenteeism.
The district told CBS2 in a statement, “While local health officials believe that the chance of students becoming ill is small, we will continue to take every precaution recommended by them.”
The teacher’s cafeteria was given an extensive cleaning and the employee has not returned to work.
1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck spoke with two seniors a few blocks from the school Wednesday because students have been instructed by school officials not to speak to the media, calling it a “private health matter.”
“One of the lunch ladies got hepatitis A and they gave us a notice to bring home,” one student said. “It worries me, I’m not trying to get sick.”
“I think one of my teacher’s might’ve had it. She was sick, she was out for like two weeks, I think that’s what she had too,” another student said. “I try to stay sanitized. I use hand sanitizer, stay clean.”
School district officials notified parents Tuesday and urged them to look out for symptoms as a precaution.
Passaic and New Jersey state officials believe it is unlikely that the disease will spread and any children will become ill, but Passaic Public Schools supervisor of health services Edward Rowbotham advised parents to be aware of the symptoms and how the disease spreads.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver, and is shed in the stool of an infected person. People contract the virus by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the hepatitis A virus, or having direct contact with someone with poor personal hygiene.
An infected person might display a range of symptoms, including fever, fatigue, poor appetite, vomiting or abdominal discomfort, dark-colored urine, clay-colored feces, and jaundice – a yellow discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
Young children with hepatitis A usually do not display any symptoms at all, but could still spread the infection to close household contacts by sharing food and utensils, the school district said.
No specific medications are indicated for treatment of hepatitis A, but those who catch it usually recover within a few weeks, the school district said.
The best solution is to practice good hygiene and keep hands washed, the district said.
Anyone in the district looking for more information on hepatitis A, or who thinks he or she might be infected, is advised to call Health Officer John Biegeo of the Passaic Health Department, at (973) 365-5603.
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