Florida: The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County announced Nov. 5 that a positive case of hepatitis A has been identified in a food service worker in St. Pete Beach.

Following lab confirmation on Nov. 1, DOH-Pinellas immediately began conducting an epidemiological investigation and determined the individual worked at Toasted Monkey, 6110 Gulf Blvd., from Oct. 17-28.

DOH says persons who frequented the restaurant on Oct. 17-28, and have not previously been vaccinated for hepatitis A, should be vaccinated. If you have previously received the hepatitis A vaccine you do not need to take additional action. DOH-Pinellas is offering the vaccine at the following locations:

• St. Petersburg, 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.

• Pinellas Park, 6350 76th Ave. N.

• Mid-County, 8751 Ulmerton Road, Largo.

• Clearwater, 310 N. Myrtle Ave.

• Tarpon Springs, 301 S. Disston Ave.

DOH-Pinellas is encouraging all healthcare providers, including hospital emergency departments to stay on high alert and immediately report cases to the Florida Department of Health.

Ohio: Taco Bell Corporation has confirmed  that an employee at the Elm Road location in Warren has tested positive for hepatitis A. So far there’s only been one confirmed case — but a handful of other employees were showing symptoms.

Taco Bell Corporation issued the following statement:

As soon as the operator of this Warren, Ohio location learned that a team member tested positive for the hepatitis A virus, the franchisee began working immediately with Taco Bell and local health officials. All team members currently working at this restaurant have been offered vaccinations, and the restaurant was thoroughly sanitized.”

Deputy Health Commissioner of the Warren Health District Robert Pinti says he was informed Saturday about an employee testing positive for Hepatitis A.

“Our understanding is eight people were symptomatic having symptoms of Hepatitis A. They’ve received the vaccine also,” Pinti said.

The team member exposed to the virus is on leave and will not return until they are cleared by medical professionals, according to a spokesperson from Taco Bell.

“In this particular case in a restaurant setting, if that food prep handler is doing the right thing and keeping their hands clean, using their gloves, changing their gloves, washing their hands it would be very difficult to pass,” Pinti said.

Taco Bell says all employees working at this location have been offered vaccinations and the restaurant was thoroughly sanitized.

Ohio: People who ate at Cracker Barrel between Oct. 15-21 are being advised to consider getting the hepatitis A vaccine after a food service worker there tested positive for the viral infection.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department made the announcement Monday morning in a joint press release with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. An assessment by the health department determined the risk of infection was low, the release says.

The Mineral Wells restaurant voluntarily closed late Friday afternoon once test results confirming the employee had tested positive for hepatitis A were received, said Carrie Brainard, public information specialist for the health department. The facility was cleaned and sanitized overnight and reopened early Saturday morning following a health department inspection, she said.

“At Cracker Barrel, nothing is more important to us than the health and well-being of our guests and employees,” Cracker Barrel Old Country Store spokeswoman Heidi Pearce said in the release. “We are also working in collaboration with the Health Department to arrange for a clinic to vaccinate all employees.”

The investigation is related to the multistate outbreak of hepatitis A. An infected worker was reported at the Taco Bell in Belpre this spring.

Brainard said the Cracker Barrel employee is the first case involving a food worker reported in the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department’s eight-county service area.

“There have been no known cases of hepatitis A being passed from a food worker to a patron” in West Virginia, she said.

Still, the health department recommends people who have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A and ate at the restaurant during the period in question consider getting the vaccine. The release emphasizes this should be done “not more than two weeks from the potential exposure to help prevent infection.”

A new case of hepatitis A has been diagnosed in a Frankfort food worker, the Franklin County Health Department reports.

The infected individual worked at the KFC located on at 1229 US 127 between Oct. 22 and Oct. 25.

The health department wants to remind the public that it’s rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A virus due to an infected food handler. However, for anyone who consumed food or drink at that KFC location during that time should receive a vaccination by Nov. 8.

Vaccinations are being administered at the Franklin County Health Department located at 100 Glenns Creek Road on the following dates and times:

Monday-Tuesday: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.
Wednesday: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Thursday-Friday: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Anyone who ate there during that time frame should monitor their health for symptoms up to 50 days after exposure.

Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will prevent the spread of this disease.

Since August 1, 2017, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) has identified over 2,000 cases of acute hepatitis A, a liver disease caused by hepatitis A virus. An increase in cases since Aug. 1, 2017, primarily among the homeless and drug users, prompted declaration of a statewide outbreak in Nov. 2017. Viral sequencing has linked several outbreak-associated cases in Kentucky with outbreaks in California and Utah.

DPH is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health departments to provide guidance and education to health professionals and at-risk populations. Treatment for acute hepatitis A generally involves supportive care, with specific complications treated as appropriate. Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease. For more information on Kentucky’s hepatitis A outbreak please visit the Hepatitis A Outbreak page.

Counts as of October 20, 2018:

Total Outbreak: 2,275
Hospitalizations: 1209
Deaths: 14

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County (DOH-Pinellas) is recommending prevention and vaccination to combat a rise in hepatitis A cases in the county as well as in nearby areas of the state.

As of Oct. 22, 58 cases have been reported in Pinellas and more than 180 in Florida. Similar increases have been reported in other states.

“We are on track to report the highest number of hepatitis A cases since 2005,” said DOH-Pinellas Director Dr. Ulyee Choe. “We have enhanced our public health efforts in encouraging prevention to reduce new cases, but those at risk need to know that there’s an effective vaccine that protects them from this disease.”

As part of its public health mission, DOH-Pinellas is offering the two-dose hepatitis A vaccine at no cost to adults and children. The usual $70.66 cost for adults is waived to remove the barrier of cost; vaccines are always provided at no cost to children and teens through the age of 18. No appointments are needed to get the vaccine at these centers:

  • St. Petersburg: 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.
  • Pinellas Park: 6350 76th Ave. N.
  • Mid-County (Largo): 8751 Ulmerton Rd.
  • Clearwater: 310 N. Myrtle Ave.
  • Tarpon Springs: 301 S. Disston Ave.

Hepatitis A is spread person-to-person via feces contaminated with its virus. For example, food prepared by an infected person who doesn’t practice proper hygiene in handwashing could sicken others.

Symptoms include fever, dark urine, yellow-tinged skin or eyes, fatigue and gastric issues. It causes damage to the liver, especially among those who already have liver disease.

Good hygiene to prevent the spread of hepatitis A—washing hands well after a bathroom visit and after changing diapers—lessens the chance that fecal contamination will spread the disease in those who have it. Vaccination is the best protection for those at risk.

Northeast Arkansas continues to have an ongoing hepatitis A (hep A) outbreak. Hep A is a contagious liver disease that can be prevented by a vaccination. The ADH is warning of a possible hep A exposure after an employee of Arkansas State University (ASU) food service and volunteer at Salvation Army has tested positive for the virus.

Anyone who ate at the ASU Student Center or the Salvation Army at 800 Cate Avenue in Jonesboro from Oct. 13 to Oct. 24 should seek vaccination immediately if they have never been vaccinated against hep A or are unsure of their vaccination status. There are no specific treatments once a person gets hep A. Illness can be prevented even after exposure by getting the vaccine or medicine called immune globulin. This medicine contains antibodies to hep A and works best if given within two weeks of exposure to the virus.

Vaccine will be available Thursday Oct. 25 and Friday Oct. 26 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Craighead County Local Health Unit in Jonesboro at 611 E. Washington Ave. Vaccine will also be available at the ASU Reng Student Center (3rd floor River Rooms) located at Aggie Circle on campus in Jonesboro from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29 and Tuesday, Oct. 30. The vaccine will be provided to the public at no cost. People should bring their insurance card and driver’s license if they have one. Students who will are unable to attend the clinics listed above because they are traveling for the weekend may be able to visit a Local Health Unit in another county. Those visiting Local Health Units in other counties should call ahead to ensure vaccine is available. Local Health Unit listing can be found at https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/health-units.

Anyone experiencing symptoms should seek care immediately. Typical symptoms of hep A include 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). It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

Risk of getting hep A in a food service setting is low. Restaurants must follow ADH protocols for handwashing and glove use, and employees are not to return to work until they are no longer sick. Hep A is being spread in this outbreak primarily through close contacts in the community, not through eating at restaurants.

Since February, 178 cases of hep A have been reported as part of an outbreak in Northeast Arkansas, including one death. Greene County has had the most cases, although there have been cases in Arkansas, Clay, Cleburne, Craighead, Independence, Lawrence, Lee, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett, and Randolph counties.

High priority groups for getting the hep A vaccine include:

  • Anyone who has had close contact with someone who has hep A
  • Food workers
  • People who use drugs, whether injected or not
  • People experiencing homelessness, transient, or unstable housing
  • People who have been recently incarcerated

The hep A vaccine is safe and effective. Hep A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hep A virus, which is a different virus from the viruses that cause hep B or hep C. It is usually spread when a person ingests tiny amounts of fecal matter from contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by the feces (stool) of an infected person.

A person can transmit the virus to others up to two weeks before and one week after symptoms appear. If infected, most people will develop symptoms three to four weeks after exposure; however, the virus can cause illness anytime from two to seven weeks after exposure. Many people, especially children, may have no symptoms. Almost all people who get hep A recover completely and do not have any lasting liver damage, although they may feel sick for months.

Older people typically have more severe symptoms. Other risk factors for having more severe symptoms of hep A include having other infections or chronic diseases like hep B or hep C, HIV/AIDS, or diabetes. Up to one in three adults are typically hospitalized. Death due to hep A is rare, but is more likely in patients with other liver diseases (like hep B or hep C).

A preliminary settlement of up to $4,500,000.00 has been reached in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of those who were exposed to hepatitis A related to eating at Genki Sushi restaurants in Hawaii in 2016, but who did not become ill with hepatitis A. The class is represented by Seattle based, Marler Clark, the nation’s food safety law firm, Perkin and Faria, and Starn, O’Toole, Marcus, and Fisher, respected Hawaii firms.  See www.HawaiiHepA.com 

Genki-Stipulation for Order Stipulating Class filed 10.12.18

Genki-Order Approving Stipulation for Class Certification filed 10.12.18

Qualified class members are entitled to receive up to either $350, $250, or $150 by submitting a claim form available at www.HawaiiHepA.com or by calling 1-800-532-9250.

The hepatitis A outbreak:

On August 15, 2016, the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) identified raw scallops served at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai as a likely source of an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak. The product of concern was identified to be Sea Port Bay Scallops that originated in the Philippines and were distributed by Koha Oriental Foods.

The class is defined as follows:

All persons who: (1) as a result of the 2016 Hepatitis A Outbreak infections linked to consuming food at thirteen Genki Sushi restaurants located on the islands of Oahu, Kauai, and Maui, were exposed to the hepatitis A virus (“HAV”) through one of three exposure-mechanisms (defined in the Exposure Subclasses), but did not become infected, and (2) as a result of such exposure, after learning of the requirement of treatment from an announcement of public health officials or a medical professional, obtained preventative medical treatment within 14 days of exposure, such as receiving immune globulin (“IG”), HAV vaccine, or blood test.

The preliminary settlement covers three subclasses:

Exposure Subclass 1 – up to $350: All Class Members who were in contact with one of the 292 persons who the Hawai’i Department of Health identified as infected with HAV as part of the 2016 Hepatitis A Outbreak. A contact is defined as:

  • All household members of one of the 292 persons
  • All sexual contacts with one of the 292 persons
  • Anyone sharing illicit drugs with one of the 292 persons
  • Anyone sharing food or eating or drinking utensils with one of the 292 persons
  • Anyone consuming ready-to-eat foods prepared by one of the 292 persons

Exposure Subclass 2 – up to $250: All Class Members who as a result of consuming food on or between August 1 to August 16, 2016, were exposed to HAV at one of the thirteen Genki Sushi restaurants located on the islands of Oahu, Kauai, and Maui, implicated in the summer 2016 outbreak of HAV.

Exposure Subclass 3 – up to $150: All Class Members who as a result of consumption of food or drink from one or more of the Secondary Establishments identified below, where an employee infected as part of the 2016 Hepatitis A Outbreak (one of the 292 persons) was found to have worked on the Identified Dates, were exposed as a result of consuming food or drink at the Secondary Establishment during one or more of the Identified Dates. The Secondary Establishments and Identified Dates are as follows:

  • Baskin Robbins located at Waikele Center, HI 96797: June 30 and July 1, 2, 2016;
  • Taco Bell located at 94-790 Uke’e St., Waipahu, HI 96797: July 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 11, 2016;
  • Sushi Shiono located at 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa, HI 96738: July 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 2016;
  • Chili’s Grill & Bar located at 590 Farrington Hwy, Kapoelei, HI 96707: July 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 2016;
  • Twelve Hawaiian Airlines flights (24) flight 118 on July 24; (25) flight 117 on July 24; (26) flight 382 on July 24; (27) flight 383 on July 24; (28) flight 396 on July 24; (29) flight 365 on July 24; (30) flight 273 on July 25; (31) flight 68 on July 25; (32) flight 65 on July 25; (33) flight 147 on July 26;; (36) flight 18 on August 10; and (37) flight 17 on August 12, 2016;
  • Tamashiro Market located at 802 N. King St., Honolulu, HI 96817: July 23, 2016;
  • Papa John’s located at 94-1012 Waipahu St., Waipahu, HI 96797: August 2, 2016;
  • New Lin Fong Bakery located at 1132 Maunakea St., Honolulu, HI 96817: July 27, 29, 30, and August 1, 3, 5, 6, 2016;
  • Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, located at 801 Kaheka St., Honolulu, HI 96814: and August 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 2016;
  • Kipapa Elementary School located at 95-76 Kipapa Dr., Mililani, HI 96789: August 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 2016;
  • Zippy’s Restaurant located at 950 Kamokila Blvd., Kapolei, HI 96707: August 14, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 2016;
  • Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38 located at 1133 North Nimitz Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96817: August 30-31 and September 1- 12, 2016;
  • Ohana Seafood at Sam’s Club located at 1000 Kamehameha Hwy., Pearl City, HI 96782: September 1- 11, 2016;
  • Chart House Restaurant located at 1765 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96815: September 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 2016; and
  • McDonald’s Restaurant located at 4618 Kilauea Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816: October 5, 7, 11, 2016.

Key dates for claimants to be aware of:

On October 15, 2018, the Notice Company will establish a website for this Settlement at www.HawaiiHepA.com which will include electronic copies of the Claim form, the Notice of Settlement for publication, the Preliminary Approval Order, and other information pertaining to the Settlement.

Beginning on or promptly after October 15, 2018, the Notice Company shall commence an online or social media campaign, to include Facebook, Instagram, or such other social media as the Notice Company deems appropriate, to disseminate notice of the Settlement

Beginning on or promptly after October 15, 2018, the Notice Company shall cause the Notice of Settlement for publication to be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in the Honolulu Star Advertiser on Oahu, Hawai’i, and Maui as a paid legal advertisement

The deadline for Class Members to request exclusion from the Class, to file objections to the Settlement, or to submit a Claim Form, shall be November 29, 2018.

A Final Approval Hearing shall be held on December 11, 2018 in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, Hawaiii, before the Honorable Judge James H. Ashford for the purpose of determining: (a) whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and should be finally approved by the Court; and (b) whether to issue a final judgment order.

Northeast Arkansas continues to have an ongoing hepatitis A (hep A) outbreak. Hep A is a contagious liver disease that can be prevented by a vaccination. The ADH is warning of a possible hep A exposure after an employee of Murdocks Catfish, located at 2612 Red Wolf Blvd in Jonesboro, tested positive for the virus.

Anyone who ate food from this restaurant from Sept. 27 to Oct. 5 should seek vaccination immediately if they have never been vaccinated against hep A or are unsure of their vaccination status. There are no specific treatments once a person gets hep A. Illness can be prevented even after exposure by getting the vaccine or medicine called immune globulin. This medicine contains antibodies to hep A and works best if given within two weeks of exposure to the virus.

“This restaurant worked proactively with the ADH by requiring vaccination for all of their employees with complete compliance prior to this potential exposure,” said Dr. Dirk Haselow, State Epidemiologist. “ADH is not aware of any ongoing risk in this restaurant at this time.”

Vaccine will be available at the Craighead County Local Health Unit located at 611 E. Washington St. in Jonesboro from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, October 11, and at the Earl Bell Community Center located at 1212 S. Church St. in Jonesboro from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, October 12.  The vaccine will be provided to the public at no cost. People should bring their insurance card and driver’s license if they have one.

Anyone experiencing symptoms should seek care immediately. Typical symptoms of hep A include 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). It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

Risk of getting hep A in a restaurant setting is low. Restaurants must follow ADH protocols for handwashing and glove use, and employees are not to return to work until they are no longer sick. Hep A is being spread in this outbreak primarily through close contacts in the community, not through eating at restaurants.

Since February, 158 cases of hep A have been reported as part of an outbreak in Northeast Arkansas, including one death. Greene County has had the most cases, although there have been cases in Clay, Craighead, Independence, Lawrence, Lee, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett, Arkansas, and Randolph counties.

The ADH continues to encourage all Greene County residents who are age 19 to 60 to get vaccinated for hep A and wash their hands thoroughly and often. The ADH strongly encourages all food handlers to be vaccinated against hep A in Greene, Clay, and Craighead counties to protect against spread of the virus.

High priority groups for getting the hep A vaccine include:

  • Anyone who has had close contact with someone who has hep A
  • Food workers
  • People who use drugs, whether injected or not
  • People experiencing homelessness, transient, or unstable housing
  • People who have been recently incarcerated

The hep A vaccine is safe and effective. Hep A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hep A virus, which is a different virus from the viruses that cause hep B or hep C. It is usually spread when a person ingests tiny amounts of fecal matter from contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by the feces (stool) of an infected person.

A person can transmit the virus to others up to two weeks before and one week after symptoms appear. If infected, most people will develop symptoms three to four weeks after exposure; however, the virus can cause illness anytime from two to seven weeks after exposure. Many people, especially children, may have no symptoms. Almost all people who get hep A recover completely and do not have any lasting liver damage, although they may feel sick for months.

Older people typically have more severe symptoms. Other risk factors for having more severe symptoms of hep A include having other infections or chronic diseases like hep B or hep C, HIV/AIDS, or diabetes. Up to one in three adults are typically hospitalized. Death due to hep A is rare, but is more likely in patients with other liver diseases (like hep B or hep C).

Since November 2017, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has been investigating an outbreak of acute hepatitis A virus (HAV). Cases have been infected with HAV strains genetically linked to outbreaks across the United States. Indiana has an average of 20 cases of hepatitis A per 12 month period.

Indiana is one of serveral states experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak, and outbreak-related cases have been confirmed across the state. Information on other outbreaks can be accessed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Transmission is presumed to occur person to person; no contaminated commercial food product has been identified. Based on CDC guidelines, populations who are homeless, transient, incarcerated or use illicit drugs and their close direct contacts are considered at increased risk of exposure to hepatitis A.

If you believe you have been exposed to hepatitis A or are homeless, use injection or non-injection drugs, were recently incarcerated, or had contact with someone who has hepatitis A, contact your healthcare provider about hepatitis A vaccine.

To reduce the risk of hepatitis A transmission, people who have not received two doses of hepatitis A vaccine may ask their healthcare providers for protection. Additionally, always wash your hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom, after changing diapers and before preparing meals for yourself and others. Do not attend work or school if you are experiencing symptoms of hepatitis A, which include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, tiredness, stomach ache, fever, dark-colored (cola) urine, light-colored stool and jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes). Symptoms may take as many as 50 days from exposure to appear.

Patrons who ate at Hardees restaurant on Little Rock Road in Charlotte between June 13 and 23 should receive a hepatitis A vaccination as soon as possible.

Public Health Director Gibbie Harris announced today that the outbreak identified by the State and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) earlier this month in Mecklenburg County has led to five additional cases since June 6, including a Hardees employee diagnosed Monday.

“After consulting with the State today, we are recommending a vaccination for exposed employees and patrons who ate at the 2604 Little Rock Road location between June 13 and 23,” Harris said. “According to the CDC, the vaccine must be given within 14 days of exposure for the vaccine to be effective.”

Public Health vaccination clinics for customers who might have been exposed and for residents who meet the high-risk factors for hepatitis A will be held:

  • Wednesday, June 27 from 8 a.m. – 7.p.m, and Thursday, June 28 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., at Northwest Health Department, 2845 Beatties Ford Rd. and Southeast Health Department, 249 Billingsley Rd., Charlotte.
  • Friday, June 29 from 3 p.m. – 8p.m. at the Hal Marshall Building, 700 N. Tryon St., Charlotte.
  • Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Hal Marshall Building, 700 N. Tryon St, Charlotte.

People who dined at Hardees on Little Rock Road on June 13 and 14 are strongly urged to get a vaccination in the next two days.

Public Health announced June 6 that North Carolina Public Health officials and the CDC declared an outbreak of the liver disease in Mecklenburg County. Five additional cases of hepatitis A have been identified for a total of ten confirmed cases since April 20. Those who have had a hepatitis A infection, or one hepatitis A vaccination, are protected from the virus and do not need to take action.

The high-risk factors include:

  • Those who are household members, caregivers, or have sexual contact with someone who is infected with hepatitis A
  • Men who have sexual encounters with other men
  • Those who use recreational drugs, whether injected or not
  • Recent travel from countries where hepatitis A is common
  • Homeless individuals who do not have easy access to handwashing facilities

The best ways to prevent hepatitis A include:

  • Get the hepatitis A vaccine;
  • Practice safe handwashing procedures – wash your hands under warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before you prepare food, and
  • Wear a condom during sexual activity.

Public Health staff continues to work with medical providers and community partners to educate residents about how to prevent hepatitis A and to implement a plan to educate and encourage vaccination of those most at-risk of contracting the virus.

Since 2012, hepatitis A virus cases have been on the rise across the country. Between July 2016 to November 2017, the CDC reports 1200 cases have occurred nationally, including 826 hospitalizations and 37 deaths.  Outbreaks have occurred in California, Utah, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, and West Virginia.

What to know about hepatitis A

  1. It’s a highly contagious liver disease caused by a virus spread from person to person. The illness can last for weeks to months. Only acute cases are reportable in North Carolina.
    2. Hepatitis A spreads through the fecal-oral route, most commonly by forgetting to wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers, having sexual contact with infected partners and eating or drinking foods contaminated by hepatitis A.
    3. Hepatitis A symptoms include nausea, fever, yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine, grey feces, joint pain, feeling tired, loss of appetite and stomach pain.
    4. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get the hepatitis A vaccine and to practice safe handwashing procedures – wash your hands under warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before you prepare food.
    5. Again, the most at-risk groups for hepatitis A are people who come into contact with someone who has hepatitis A, travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common, men who have sexual contact with men, people who use drugs (both injection and non-injection) and people with clotting factor disorders.

If you have potentially been exposed to hepatitis A and are unable to receive the vaccine watch for the symptoms listed above.  If you experience any of these symptoms, access medical care as soon as possible.

Hardee’s may be found at fault for allowing an employee to work while infected with HAV, for failing to properly supervise, train, or monitor their employees who prepare food for consumption, or for failing to require its food-service employees to obtain HAV immunizations.

Bill Marler, foodborne illness expert and food safety attorney, has been an avid advocate for strengthening preventative measures within the food industry. “Any exposure to hepatitis A is entirely preventable,” Marler said. “By not requiring employees to be vaccinated against the virus, Hardee’s puts itself and all of its customers at risk. Infected people typically don’t show symptoms until a few weeks after contracting hepatitis A, so they could be spreading the virus without even knowing it. However,” he continued, “Had all employees been vaccinated, Hardee’s wouldn’t have to worry about identifying HAV positive employees in the first place, and customers wouldn’t be panicking now to receive treatment.”

Exposed employees and customers are filing for damages that include wage loss, medical-related expenses, travel expenses, emotional distress, fear of harm and humiliation, and physical pain and injury.

The acute symptoms of hepatitis A are a sudden onset of flu-like symptoms about a month after the virus is contracted. Muscle aches, headaches, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, fever, and jaundice are all typical symptoms of the infection. Urine may turn a dark color and stool could be light or clay-colored. The illness typically lasts a few weeks, but recovery could take up to a year. Most affected individuals show complete recovery within three to six months of the onset of illness. Relapse is possible, although it is more common in children than adults.

The best protection against a hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated. An estimated 80,000 cases of HAV occur each year, although much higher estimates have been proposed. Hepatitis A is a virus that primarily infects the liver, and an estimated 100 people die each year as a result of acute liver failure in the U.S. due to hepatitis A. However, the rate of infection has dramatically decreased since the hepatitis A vaccine was licensed and became available in the U.S. in 1995.

Because HAV is so readily transmitted, Bill Marler encourages restaurants and food handlers to adhere to strict sanitary protocols. He warns, “The virus is almost exclusively transmitted through fecal-oral contact, so it is crucial that all employees thoroughly wash their hands after using the restroom, whether they feel sick or not.” For more information about hepatitis A, please visit www.about-hepatitis.com.