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American Airlines flight attendant exposes dozens of passengers to hepatitis A

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Dozens of passengers from an American Airlines flight have been contacted about possible hepatitis A exposure, officials said. 

The passengers contacted were on Flight AA1960 from San Francisco to Charlotte on Sept. 21.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department said it notified 18 passengers about the possible exposure. The San Francisco Department of Public Health said it also contacted 18 people from the September flight, making a total of 36 people who were notified about the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was notified of a confirmed case of hepatitis A in a flight attendant. American Airlines officials told Channel 9 Monday night that it's sent the CDC flight manifests to the CDC. Officials with the airline did not say how many manifests they sent the agency.

[ALSO READ:Waffle House customers possibly exposed to hepatitis A at South Carolina restaurant, officials say]

Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can cause a mild to severe illness and is spread through contaminated food or drinks. 

Mecklenburg County said it's encouraging passengers to get the hepatitis A vaccine.

The 18 passengers that were contacted have all received immunizations, according to the health department.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department said the public is not at risk. 

The CDC said because the flight attendant was having symptoms on several flights within the infectious period, passengers were notified. It said the airline is notifying other crew staffing those flights.

American Airlines confirmed it has notified the CDC about more than one flight involved but hasn’t confirmed the exact number of flights or passengers their crew member may have come in contact with.


AMERICAN AIRLINES 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."


Channel 9 reached out to departments of health in all 50 states, D.C. and health departments local to the 30 busiest airports in the country to see if they were contacted by the CDC.

Below is what we've learned about the number of people possibly exposed: 

  • San Francisco- 18 people
  • Mecklenburg County- 18 people
  • Cabarrus County- 1 person
  • Union County- 2 people
  • New York- 2 people
  • Pennsylvania- “A few” people
  • Illinois- 1 person
  • Seattle- 1 person
  • Texas- 1 person
  • South Carolina- 4 people 
  • Virginia- 14 people

Last year, the health department dealt with a broader hepatitis A situation when a restaurant worker in South Park was diagnosed with it and customers had to get vaccinated. 

In that case, the county reached out to make sure thousands of customers got vaccinated. 

[ALSO READ: Mecklenburg Co. health department wraps up hepatitis A vaccinations following outbreak]

The CDC's website said the best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. Although most people recover within two months, the disease can cause liver failure and death, particularly in older patients.

Second AA statement: "For HIPPA privacy act related reasons, we cannot disclose specific information about the team member involved in this matter. However, once informed by the CDC of a team member potentially carrying infectious disease, American Airlines policy is to immediately remove the individual from service until all necessary health measures have been completed in accordance with CDC guidance."  

John and Kristen Mietus were traveling back home to Buffalo Monday night.

They feel like American Airlines should tell everyone on board the flights the attendant worked on.

"I think it’s important, any type of health risk in an enclosed area needs to be voiced," CeCe Carson said.

No other information has been released.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

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