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Arkansas Subway in Hepatitis A Spotlight

subwayindexThe Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is warning of a possible Hepatitis A Virus (Hep A) exposure after a Subway employee in Morrilton tested positive for the virus. The Subway is located at 1812 State Highway 9 Business, just off of Exit 108 on Interstate 40 in Morrilton.

Any individual, who has eaten food from the Morrilton Subway between March 25 and April 5 and is experiencing symptoms should contact their primary care provider immediately. Typical symptoms of Hep A include, but are not limited to: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Hep A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. A person can transmit the virus to others up to 2 weeks before and one week after symptoms appear.

There are no specific treatments once a person gets Hep A. However, it can be prevented through vaccination or through receipt of a medicine called immune globulin. This medicine contains antibodies from other people who are immune to Hep A.

People without symptoms who have eaten at this Subway between March 25 and April 5 and are:

  • under 1 year of age, are too young to be vaccinated and may wish to seek out immune globulin from a health care provider.
  • between 1 year to 40 years of age, and if never vaccinated for Hep A, may wish to seek out vaccination from a health care provider.
  • 41 years old and older, and never vaccinated for Hep A, may wish to seek out immune globulin. Vaccine is not known to be effective in this group post-exposure.

As a matter of policy, employees at Subway use disposable gloves between customers and while preparing food. These behaviors have likely reduced the risk of illness to the public. Nevertheless, individuals who have eaten at this Subway between March 25 and April 5, who are pregnant or have severe chronic illness, in particular, liver-related disease, are encouraged to consult with their doctor and consider the above treatment.

The Conway County Health Unit, located at 100 Hospital Drive in Morrilton, will have immune globulin and Hep A vaccine, which can be administered upon request with an appointment on or after Wednesday, April 15. If you wish to get one of these medicines from the health department, call (501) 354-4652 to make an appointment.

At this time, no other Hep A illnesses have been reported to ADH; however, the virus can cause illness anytime from 2-7 weeks after exposure. If infected, most people will develop symptoms 3-4 weeks after exposure.

Hep A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter – even in microscopic amounts – from contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by the feces, or stool, of an infected person.

Many people, especially children, may have no symptoms. The older a person is when they get Hep A, typically the more severe symptoms they have.

Almost all people who get Hep A recover completely and do not have any lasting liver damage, although they may feel sick for months.

Hepatitis A is preventable through vaccination. Hepatitis A vaccine has been recommended for school children for many years and one dose of Hep A vaccine is required for entry into kindergarten and first grade as of 2014. Most adults are likely not vaccinated, but may have been if they received vaccinations prior to traveling internationally.