On March 4, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) notified the community that it was investigating an increase in Hepatitis A cases in the region. There have been 12 cases reported in the region from north of Gravenhurst to Huntsville since October 2019. In a typical year, there would be between zero and six cases. At that time, no further details about any of the cases had been released.
In a subsequent public service announcement on March 11, SMDHU reported that an employee at The Family Place Restaurant in Huntsville had recently contracted Hepatitis A, and noted that, “The restaurant is working closely with the health unit and this occurrence is not a direct reflection on the restaurant, as this disease can happen at any time in any setting. It has been inspected and is compliant with public health standards.”
In response to unfounded concerns from members of the public that the restaurant may have been the source of the outbreak, its owners shared the following statement with Huntsville Doppler:
To our valued customers:
There has been an outbreak of Hepatitis A from Gravenhurst to Huntsville affecting a number of people. On March 4, the medical officer from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit stated publicly on their website and urged residents in Muskoka to watch for signs of hepatitis due to a local increase in cases. On March 5, Global News reported an uptick in Hepatitis A in this area. Since October, 2019, there have been 12 cases. Several local schools have confirmed cases of a cluster of Hepatitis A from earlier in February. It is distressing to think that this restaurant is being singled out as the source of the virus when other cases have been reported earlier.
Unfortunately, one of our staff members has contracted Hep. A. It is a low risk for people to contract the virus, but we want our loyal customers to be well informed. The staff member is currently on leave, getting better, and we wish them a speedy recovery!
According to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, The Family Place Restaurant has been fully compliant with the health department and have a green light to stay open for business as usual. Staff members have been diligent with cleaning procedures and were fully inspected on Friday, March 8.
As a precaution we ask that anyone who dined at the restaurant on the following dates talk with their doctor or the health unit (1-877-721-7520): Feb. 26 between 5:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Feb. 27, 28, 29, and March 1 between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.; March 4 between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.; and March 7 between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
Free vaccinations are being offered this week at the Active Living Centre located at the back of the Canada Summit Centre (20 Park Drive, Huntsville) on March 11 from 2-8 p.m., March 12 from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and March 13 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Doppler reached out to the health unit for more information about the other cases in the region and will publish further details once they are available.
Update, March 11, 8:00 p.m.: SMDHU associate medical officer of health, Dr. Colin Lee, responded to Doppler’s questions about the outbreak late this afternoon. Click here to read more.
For more information on Hepatitis A, visit simcoemuskokahealth.org.
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