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May 13, 1996

The Cost of a Food-Borne Outbreak of Hepatitis A in Denver, Colo

Arch Intern Med. 1996;156(9):1013-1016. doi:10.1001/archinte.1996.00440090123012

Background:  In 1992, a food-borne outbreak of hepatitis A associated with a catering facility in Denver, Colo, resulted in 43 secondary cases of hepatitis A and the potential exposure of approximately 5000 patrons.

Objectives:  To assess (1) disease control costs, including state and local health department personnel costs, provision and administration of immune globulin, and cost of extra hepatitis A serologic tests performed; (2) business losses; and (3) cost of the cases' illnesses.

Methods:  Cost data were collected from hospitals, health maintenance organizations, health departments, laboratories, the caterer's insurance company, and the catering facility involved in the outbreak.

Results:  The total costs assessed in the outbreak from a societal perspective were $809 706. Disease control costs were $689 314, which included $450 397 for 16 293 immune globulin injections and $105 699 for 2777 hours of health department personnel time. The cases' medical costs were $46 064, or 7% of the disease control costs.

Conclusions:  The cases' medical costs and productivity losses were only a minor component of the total cost of this outbreak. The high cost of food-borne outbreaks should be taken into account in economic analyses of the vaccination of food handlers with inactivated hepatitis A vaccine.(Arch Intern Med. 1996;156:1013-1016)