Madison County Health Department investigating hepatitis A case in a food handler

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MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ)- The Madison County Health Department says they are investigating a case of hepatitis A after a food handler who worked at a pizza place in Berea was diagnosed.

The health department says the person worked while infected at Mario’s Pizza on Chestnut Street. They say the risk to customers is low.

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The health department says that Mario’s is fully cooperating with local and state health officials to investigate this case and to ensure the health and safety of its employees and patrons.

Since October, the Madison County Health Department has been recommending hepatitis A vaccination for everyone in the community as the number of cases in the county, region and throughout the state continues to climb. Madison County Health Department declared county wide outbreak status on October 24th.

Hepatitis A can be spread when: an infected person does not wash his or her hands properly after going to the bathroom and then touches objects or food; a caregiver does not properly wash his or her hands after changing diapers or cleaning up the stool of an infected person; someone engages in certain sexual activities. Hepatitis A can also be spread through food or water through an ill food handler or by using contaminated items.

Symptoms of infection usually appear 15 to 50 days after exposure and can include: fever, jaundice, grey-colored stools, dark urine, abdominal pain, vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and joint pain. Some people, especially children, may have no symptoms. This is why proper handwashing is critical. Symptoms usually resolve in 2 months but can last as long as 6 months. There is no treatment for Hepatitis A and some people require hospitalization. If you have these symptoms you should contact your primary care provider for testing.

Hepatitis A can be prevented by receiving the Hepatitis A vaccination. This vaccination is available to anyone 12 months of age or older and is given in two doses six months apart. Everyone is also reminded that handwashing is the best way to prevent infection. Handwashing should be emphasized especially after using the bathroom, changing a diaper or preparing and eating food.

Further information on Hepatitis A and prevention of the infection can be found at www.cdc.gov or http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/hepatitis.htm. Information for food service employers or employees can be found at http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/RetailFoodProtection/default.htm.