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.
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.
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.
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.
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)