Larimer County Health Department issues Hepatitis A alert for Rice Elementary School

A student attending Rice Elementary School has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A. Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus.

School protocols are in place to keep students safe and prevent exposure to the disease. Older children and adults are more likely to have symptoms. Young children may have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, but can spread the virus to their family members. Most people with hepatitis A feel sick for about 2 months. Some people are sick for up to 6 months. A blood test for hepatitis A antibodies (IgM) is needed to diagnose this infection. Animals do not carry or spread this virus.

General facts about Hepatitis A
The signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A are: low-grade fever, loss of appetite, tiredness, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, pale colored stool (poop), and yellow skin and eyes (jaundice). The time between being exposed to the virus and having symptoms appear is usually 2-6 weeks. Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of a person who has the virus. It spreads to others when someone puts something in his or her mouth that has the hepatitis A virus on it (hands, objects, food, etc.). It can spread by touching objects such as doorknobs or diapers that have virus on them. A person infected with Hepatitis A is most contagious in the two weeks before symptoms begin, and remains contagious for a week after symptoms begin.

How to control the spread of Hepatitis A
Vaccination for Hepatitis A is the best method to prevent Hepatitis A infections. Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent the disease and is recommended for all children beginning at one year of age.
• Always wash your hands after using the restroom and before food preparation.
• Stay out of school, childcare, or work if you have a diarrheal illness and avoid all food preparation while you are ill.
• Unvaccinated people who are exposed to someone with hepatitis A (through close contact or eating food prepared by the ill person) can be given vaccine or an immune globulin (IG) shot in the 2 weeks after exposure in order to prevent illness or lessen the severity of symptoms. The local public health agency will evaluate whether anyone should receive IG or hepatitis A vaccine following direct exposure to Hepatitis A. In most instances, teachers and classmates are not at risk of becoming infected.
• There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A after symptoms have developed.

What to Do
• If you, your child or other individuals in your household have symptoms of Hepatitis A please do not expose others. Wash your hands after using the restroom, and if possible use a separate restroom from others in your household. Consult with your health care provider and inform him/her that there may have been an exposure to Hepatitis A so that appropriate testing can be considered. This is especially important as close contacts may benefit from receiving a Hepatitis A vaccination if they have not been previously vaccinated.

• Consult with your health care provider or your local health department to ensure immunizations (Hepatitis A vaccine) of all members of your household are up to date. Vaccine is available from most private physicians or your County Health Department.

• If you have questions about Hepatitis A, call your health care provider or the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment at 970-498-6700.

• The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has vaccine clinic appointments at the Fort Collins office (1525 Blue Spruce; phone 970-498-6700). Please call the clinic to inquire about clinic appointments and vaccination options or check the Larimer County Health Department’s web site for current immunization information at

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