WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
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
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.
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.
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
SOURCES: "Hepatitis A health alert is issued," Los Angeles
Times, Feb. 28, 2007. "Hepatitis A scare at Hollywood parties,"
Associated Press, Feb. 28, 2007. WebMD Medical Reference provided in
collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic: "Digestive Diseases: Hepatitis
A." WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise: "Topic Overview:
What is Hepatitis C?" "Topic Overview: What is Hepatitis B?" News
release, Wolfgang Puck Catering.
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