County health officials have confirmed eight cases of hepatitis among people living at the Ambassador Inn.
Cases of the infectious disease came to light earlier this month, when county officials informed the school district of several suspected cases at Valencia Park Elementary School. All of the infected children live at the hotel, at 2100 W. Commonwealth Ave., said Nita Taylor, coordinator of Fullerton School District’s health services. Two cases of hepatitis, neither in the infectious stage, were confirmed in kindergarten students at the school, she said.
The viral disease, which attacks the liver, has a six-week incubation period. By the time officials drew blood tests at the hotel last week, most of the cases were past the infectious stage, said Tom Pendergrast, the county’s epidemiologist.
While the county continues blood tests on residents of the hotel, parents of Valencia Park pupils have been warned, through a memo, of the hepatitis and advised that observing proper hygiene reduces the risk of catching the disease. Fullerton police officers and firefighters also received a memo from Police Sgt. Bud Lathrop, advising them to take extra precautions when they are called to the hotel.
“I was concerned because our officers are there all the time,” Lathrop said.
Hepatitis A, the milder form of the virus, commonly is transmitted through young children who haven’t yet learned to wash their hands regularly, and this precaution is being emphasized at Valencia Park school, Taylor said. To prevent further spreading of the disease, cafeteria personnel are wrapping food trays in plastic and not allowing the children to exchange foods, Taylor said.