Hepatitis A scare traced to flight attendant on American Airlines plane to Charlotte

Hepatitis A scare traced to flight attendant on American Airlines plane to Charlotte
(American Airlines)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Joe Maursak//The Charlotte Observer) - An American Airlines flight attendant was the source of possible hepatitis A exposure to passengers on a recent flight from San Francisco to Charlotte, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC officials were notified Oct. 1 of a confirmed case of acute hepatitis A in the attendant, according to a CDC news release.

The flight attendant “had diarrhea on several flights within the infectious period,” prompting investigators to contact all passengers and other crew, CDC officials said in the release. The CDC did not identify the other flights where the attendant worked.

Mecklenburg County health officials spoke by phone with all 18 passengers from the Charlotte area who were aboard the Sept. 21 flight, and all have since been vaccinated against the virus, The Charlotte Observer reported on Saturday.

“The risk was only to the passengers on the flight,” health department spokeswoman Rebecca Carter told the Observer, explaining why health officials didn’t issue a general county alert. “There was no risk to the public.”

A vaccination prevents the liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, cdc.gov. Hepatitis A causes “fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice,” with symptoms disappearing in about 2 months, officials say on the site.

“It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water,” CDC officials say.

In the agency news release, CDC officials said the incubation period for the hepatitis A virus averages 28 days, but can last up to 50 days. The virus’ infectious period can start two week before symptoms show and typically within the week after symptoms end.