Several dozen people may have been exposed to hepatitis A, an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver, at the Auberge Chez Jean in Montreal between July 29 and August 18, 2023. The Regional Health Department public (DRSP) of Montreal asks people who have stayed there during this period to be vaccinated against hepatitis A, unless they have already been. The tourist establishment is closed until further notice.
“Given the high number of potential contacts with the virus, the DRSP of Montreal is struggling to find all the people potentially exposed as part of its epidemiological investigation”, we explain in a press release issued Friday afternoon.
Public Health recommends that people who have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A and whose stay at the Auberge Chez Jean ended 15 days or less ago get vaccinated to reduce the risk of developing the disease. The free vaccine is offered at the Berri-Centre-Sud vaccination site.
Authorities are advising people who have stayed at the hotel to monitor their symptoms for 50 days after leaving the hostel. The disease is usually manifested by fever, general malaise, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort. The infection can also cause jaundice (yellow skin and yellow whites of the eyes), dark urine (dark brown color) and pale stools.
Hepatitis A can be transmitted by ingestion (the virus can be present in water, food or drinks), in contact with contaminated objects (eg: toys, taps, utensils, etc.) or during intercourse sex with an infected person. People with hepatitis A who do not have symptoms remain infectious.
As of July 31, 2023, 13 cases of hepatitis A had been reported to the Montreal DRSP since the beginning of the year.
Risks for seniors and immunocompromised people
The DRSP of Montreal indicates that “most preschool children have no symptoms or present with mild illness”. Healing occurs “generally in less than 2 months without complications or sequelae”, we add. “However, the elderly, people with chronic liver disease, and immunocompromised people can develop acute liver failure, sometimes requiring liver transplantation or resulting in death.”
In a message on its Facebook page, the management of the Auberge Chez Jean indicates that the establishment will be closed until further notice. “We have the health of our customers at heart, we do everything we can to scrupulously apply the health recommendations and barrier measures issued by the government of public health”, we write.