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Vancouver Coastal Health warns of possible hepatitis A exposure at two Whistler restaurants

Public health officials advise people who dined at Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar or Il Caminetto from July 14 to 20 to monitor for symptoms, but say the risk of transmission is low.

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is notifying people who dined at Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar or Il Caminetto earlier this month that they could have been exposed to hepatitis A during their meal. 

In a news release issued July 28, the health authority said restaurant guests who consumed food at either Whistler Village eatery between July 14 and 20 should monitor themselves for symptoms of infection, but stressed that the risk of transmission remains low. 

Because being immunized with one dose of a hepatitis A vaccine within two weeks of exposure can help prevent infection, VCH also advises those who dined at either restaurant during the relevant period to seek out a hepatitis A vaccine. Anyone who has previously been infected with hepatitis A or received two doses of a hepatitis A vaccine prior to the exposure event is considered already protected.

Symptoms of the liver-targeting disease can include fatigue, nausea or loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, fever, muscle aches, pain under the right side of the rib cage (where the liver is located), yellow skin and eyes, dark urine, and clay-coloured stools. 

Signs of hepatitis A can take two to seven weeks to develop after exposure to the virus and last for about two months.

"If you have early symptoms of hepatitis A it is very important to see your health care provider," noted VCH. "In most cases, the infection goes away on its own and does not lead to long-term liver problems. In rare cases, it can be more serious." 

Justin Morel, chief operating officer of Toptable Group, which owns Araxi and Il Caminetto, confirmed in a statement that a member of the restaurants' staff has tested positive for hepatitis A.

"Our restaurants take the health and safety of our staff and guests very seriously and we pride ourselves by going above and beyond public health guidelines. All our staff members are expected to be fully vaccinated,” he said. “We’re unwavering in our commitment to working closely with our health authorities who have assured us that this case appears to be isolated, and the risk of transmission is extremely low.”

A free dose of the hepatitis A vaccine is available to individuals who are eligible at clinics and pharmacies throughout the VCH region. Those who reside outside the VCH region should contact their local public health unit.

Individuals who are concerned they may have been exposed and have questions can call B.C.'s public health line at 811 or speak to their primary care provider.

An earlier version of this article stated the exposure period was July 4 to 20. VCH later corrected their alert to say it was actually from July 14 to 20.