MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WDTV)– A case of Hepatitis A has been confirmed in a food worker at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen on earl Core Road, according to the Monongalia County Health Department.
“While the risk of contracting Hepatitis A from a food worker is low, people who have not been vaccinated against Hepatitis A who have consumed food from the restaurant within the past two weeks should consider getting a Hepatitis A vaccine to prevent infection,” said Dr. Lee B. Smith, MCHD executive director and county health officer.
The dates the employee worked at Popeyes while potentially contagious are Sept. 30-Oct. 16, the health department says. That means people who ate food from the restaurant starting Oct. 9 can still benefit from the Hepatitis A vaccine. If vaccinated within two weeks of being exposed, it can prevent Hepatitis A infection.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A can be any combination of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, low-grade fever, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, muscle and joint aches, dark urine, weight loss and jaundice.
Anyone who shows some of the symptoms should contact a health care provide.
Anyone working as a food handler who experiences Hepatitis A symptoms should not work and should contact a health care provider.
“While some Hepatitis A symptoms are vague and flu-like, jaundice, which gives a person yellow skin and/or eyes, is much more specific symptom of Hepatitis,” Dr. Smith said.
Area health care providers should be aware of potential for Hepatitis A cases, according to MCHD. The health department has both Hepatitis A vaccine and immunoglobulin available.
MCHD says they are working with Popeyes management, which has been cooperating with the health department.
Dr Smith said food workers are being vaccinated before being allowed to return to work.
MCHD has been in contact with both the owners and corporate headquarters and is aware that a biohazard level cleanup is underway.
Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver, according to the health department. It is spread through fecal-oral contact.
In addition to receiving the Hepatitis A vaccine, good handwashing techniques with warm or hot water and soap for at least 30 seconds at all times, including after using the bathroom and also before preparing food, are recommended to avoid spread of the illness, according to the health department.
To get a vaccine at MCHD Clinical Services, call 304-598-5105 to make an appointment between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. If you have urgent questions after hours, call 304-680-4357. Vaccination appointments cannot be made after hours.
To learn more about Hepatitis, check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, cdc.gov/hepatitis.