Health department: Cambridge City food handler diagnosed with hepatitis A, vaccine encouraged for Aug. 17-21 patrons

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Those who ate at No. 9 Grill between Aug. 17-21 should get a hepatitis A vaccination by Tuesday, according to Wayne County Health Department officials.
In a news release issued Friday evening, the health department said a case of hepatitis A has been diagnosed in an employee who handled food at the restaurant, 27 W. Main St., in Cambridge City.

Hepatitis A vaccinations are given earlier this summer during a clinic offered by Wayne County Community Health Center staff. Photo supplied by Wayne County Health Department

The employee worked while ill for five days, according to the release. Local health officials have worked with No. 9 Grill to prevent any new cases from arising in the community as a result of this case. No. 9 Grill staff told the health department the food handler didn’t work after notifying the restaurant of the illness, according to the release.

The health department says while it’s relatively rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A through an infected food handler, it recommends anyone who consumed food at the restaurant between Aug. 17-21 to be vaccinated by Sept. 4 to help prevent illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the vaccine or immune globulin are only effective within the first two weeks after exposure.
Vaccinations are available from primary care doctors and walk-in clinics as well as pharmacies that offer them. Those seeking vaccines are encouraged to call ahead to verify vaccine ability.
In addition to obtaining a vaccine, those who ate at the restaurant during those dates are asked to monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A for up to 50 days after exposure; wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food; and staying home and contacting their healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A develop.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown-colored urine and light-colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People can become ill for as long as seven weeks after being exposed to the virus.
Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests it from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person who did not wash his or her hands adequately after using the toilet or engaging in behaviors that increase risk of infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends several groups obtain hepatitis A vaccinations regardless of outbreaks occurring. Those are:
* All children at age 1
* Travelers to countries that have high rates of hepatitis A
* Family members and caregivers of recent adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
* Men who have sexual contact with other men
* People who use illicit drugs
* People with chronic lifelong liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C
* People who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates
* People who work with hepatitis A-infected animals or in a hepatitis A research lab

Wayne County Health Department has consulted with Indiana Department of Health and the CDC in this investigation, the release said. For more information, contact Wayne County Health Center at (765) 973-9294 or the health department at (765) 973-9245.

Read more about the hepatitis A outbreak in Wayne County and around Indiana in the Sept. 5 edition of Western Wayne News.