Hepatitis A Cases Among Food Handlers: A Local Health Department Response—New York City, 2013

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Abstract

During 2013, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) received reports of 6 hepatitis A cases among food handlers. We describe our decision-making process for public notification, type of postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) offered, and lessons learned. For 3 cases, public notification was issued and DOHMH offered only hepatitis A vaccine as PEP. Subsequent outbreaks resulted from 1 case for which no public notification was issued or PEP offered, and 1 for which public notification was issued and PEP was offered too late. DOHMH continues to use environmental assessments to guide public notification decisions and offer only hepatitis A vaccine as PEP after public notification but recognizes the need to evaluate each situation individually. The PEP strategy employed by DOHMH should be considered because hepatitis A vaccine is immunogenic in all age groups, can be obtained by local jurisdictions more quickly, and is logistically easier to administer in mass clinics than immunoglobulin.

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