By Andrea Romano
October 07, 2019

Some passengers on a recent American Airlines flight from San Francisco to Charlotte, N.C., may have been exposed to hepatitis A and should take certain measures to protect their health, according to the Charlotte Observer.

A spokeswoman for the Mecklenburg County Health Department told the Charlotte Observer that only people on that particular flight, which occurred on Sept. 21, have been exposed and there is no risk to the public.

The county health department has contacted 18 passengers who are local to Charlotte and has advised them on any precautions they should take. All 18 passengers contacted have been vaccinated against the disease, according to the Charlotte Observer. It is unclear whether other passengers or crew on the flight were also impacted.

Hepatitis A is a communicable liver disease that is treatable and does not become a chronic illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against the virus, but diagnosed patients who recover from it are also protected from reinfection.

The disease usually spreads from person-to-person through contaminated food or water, according to the CDC. It’s unclear whether the exposure occurred due to an infected passenger or crew.

A spokesperson for American Airlines said in a statement, “The safety of our customers and team members is our top priority. We are in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health officials and will coordinate with them on any required health and safety-related measures.”

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Symptoms include stomach pain, dehydration, loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). They usually resolve within two months from the onset in adults. Children under six, however, may not present with any symptoms. It’s important for anyone who is exposed to be vigilant and get checked by a medical professional as soon as possible since the disease can spread very quickly, according to WCNC.

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