Possible Hepatitis A transmitted at Olive Garden

August 9, 2011 1:46:47 PM PDT
The Cumberland County Public Health Department issued a warning Monday of the possible transmission of Hepatitis A at a Fayetteville Olive Garden.

The restaurant is located on 234 North McPherson Church Road.

Employees and anyone who visited the Olive Garden anytime on July 25, 26, 28, 29, 31 and Aug. 1, 2 and 8 may have been exposed to Hepatitis A through a restaurant employee.

"It is important that those persons working or visiting the restaurant on these dates receive an injection of Hepatitis A immune globulin or vaccine immediately," said Buck Wilson, health department director.

Exposed individuals from those dates may obtain the immunization through the Cumberland County Public Health Department, 1235 Ramsey Street, at a walk-in clinic starting Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 9 a.m. The walk-in clinic will continue daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until further notice.

Both immune globulin (also called gamma globulin) and Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection with Hepatitis A virus if given within 14 days of exposure. Individuals must receive the vaccine immediately.

Individuals current on Hepatitis A vaccine are considered protected from this virus. Questions and concerns will be addressed by calling the Health Department at 910- 433-3638.

The age-appropriate dose of Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for healthy person's age 12 months to 40 years old. However, for anyone who cannot take the vaccine, there is a Hepatitis A immune globulin recommended for persons:

  • Over the age of 40 years
  • Children under the age of 12 months
  • Immune-compromised persons who have been diagnosed with chronic liver disease or who have been advised to avoid the vaccine due to potential adverse reactions.

Health Department medical staff will assess persons at the clinic and give the appropriate immunization.

It is possible that patrons prior to July 25 may have been exposed. While the vaccine is not effective for these patrons, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms and discuss with your primary care physician.

The early signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A appear two to six weeks after exposure and commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and tiredness, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, dark urine, light color stools and jaundice (yellowness of eyes or skin).

The disease varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting 4-6 weeks or longer. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice or any symptom at all, and may have an illness so mild that it can go unnoticed. However, even mildly ill persons can still be highly infectious. Persons with illness suggestive of hepatitis should consult a physician even if symptoms are mild.

Hepatitis A virus is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter ? even in microscopic amounts ? from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces or stool of an infected person. Persons are at increased risk of acquiring Hepatitis A when they have been in close and continuous contact with an infected individual, particularly in a household.

Fecal matter can remain on the hands unless hands are washed often and thoroughly.

Careful hand washing is key to preventing spread of Hepatitis A and should include vigorous washing of hands with soap and running water for minimum of 20 seconds. All surfaces should be washed including the back of the hands, wrists, between fingers and under fingernails.

For more information see http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/A/index.htm.

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