Follow the news and it is likely that you will hear of a recent incidence of Hepatitis A (Hep A). Just this month there have been reports of Hep A from California, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana, and Utah. This highly contagious disease can wreak havoc in a community; extra measures need to be taken to control and eliminate the transfer of this life-threatening virus.
WHAT IS HEPATITIS A?
According to the SanDiegoCounty.gov website, “Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. Highly contagious, the Hepatitis A virus is usually transmitted by the fecal-oral route, either through person-to-person contact or consumption of contaminated food or water. Contamination can occur when infected persons do not wash their hands properly after going to the bathroom and then touch other objects or food items. Surfaces that are frequently touched should be cleaned and sanitized often.” These include:
- High-touch surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs, and railings
- Kitchen surfaces
- Workplace equipment, such as computer keyboards and phones
- Recreation equipment
- Remote controls
DISINFECTING HEPATITIS A:
Hep A can be effectively treated using a chlorine bleach solution or with other disinfectants labeled “effective against Hepatitis A” or “effective against Feline Calicivirus”.
- When using a chlorine bleach solution, mix 1- 2/3 cups bleach to 1 gallon of water.
- Large surface areas can be effectively treated using a pressure sprayer to disperse the disinfecting solution (ensure that you are using a pressure sprayer that is equipped with special seals to accommodate bleach solutions.)
- Allow one-minute of contact time and then rinse with water.
- Wear protective gear such as gloves, masks and outerwear.
- Always remember to use chemicals in a well-ventilated area. Avoid contact with incompatible chemicals, and avoid contact with food.
- Thoroughly rinse the pressure sprayer after use.
PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF ILLNESS:
Employees must report if they have been diagnosed with Hep A (as well as many other communicable diseases) and employers are required to report the incidence to their local Health and Human Services Department. Affected employees should be prohibited from working in food service areas until they have the medical “all clear” to return to work.
All employees should observe proper cleanliness practices, including washing their hands after using the bathroom, after sneezing, before handling utensils & dishes, and should use clean gloves when handling food.
A single ill employee in the food service industry can quickly infect hundreds to thousands of people over a short period of time. Being aggressive with sanitation protocol is necessary to halt the spread of the virus to prevent it from becoming a community outbreak.
For more information on Hepatitis A Disinfection Guidelines see: https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/dam/sdc/deh/fhd/food/pdf/publications_hepatitisA.pdf
For information on Solo sprayers visit: us.solo.global