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.
What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by infection with the hepatitis A virus. When symptoms occur, they may include jaundice, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, fever, diarrhea, and fatigue.
Hepatitis confuses many people because there are so many different types. Inflammation of the liver can be due to noninfectious causes of hepatitis such as alcohol and certain medications.
Other infectious causes include hepatitis B and C. Both hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections can lead to permanent liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.
People with hepatitis often have no symptoms, but viral hepatitis infections can be detected with a blood test.
Can You Prevent Hepatitis A?
Vaccination can protect against the disease. Good hygiene is the best way to prevent spread of hepatitis A. Always wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before and after handling food, and after changing a diaper.