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Hollywood Scene of Hepatitis A Scare

Infected Catering Employee May Have Exposed Partygoers to Hepatitis A Virus
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 28, 2007 -- Sexy models and bikini-clad celebrities usually get all the attention when Sports Illustrated's famous swimsuit issue comes out every February, but this year a prep cook at the magazine's star-studded bash is stealing the limelight for possibly exposing partygoers to hepatitis A. 

So far there are no reports of celebrities acquiring the hepatitis A virus, but Los Angeles County public health officials said on Tuesday that guests of 13 parties, including those who attended the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue party on Feb. 14, may have been exposed.

According to media reports, singer-actress Beyonce Knowles, who graced this year's cover of the swimsuit issue, attended the party along with several high-profile models. Other guests included Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan and Borat co-star Ken Davitian.

The announcement comes after an employee of Wolfgang Puck Catering, who worked as a prep cook for the events, was diagnosed with the hepatitis A virus, which is found in the feces of infected people.

According to a statement issued by Wolfgang Puck Catering, the company is working to ensure that anyone who may have eaten the food served at one of the 13 events be made aware of the hepatitis A alert. The prep cook, the statement says, has been placed on medical leave.

Hepatitis A virus is spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated. Poor sanitary conditions and personal hygiene practices contribute to spread of the infection.

Most people don't require special treatment for hepatitis A, although treatment can help with symptoms. It is not a chronic disease, and once you have gotten over a hepatitis A infection you can't get it again.

If an individual has been exposed to hepatitis A, he or she can receive a medication called immune globulin within two weeks of contact to prevent onset of the disease.

Health officials are urging anyone who may have eaten raw food at the parties to come in for immune globulin treatment.

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