Health officials have confirmed a case of hepatitis A in a food handler at the McDonald's at 106 LaFayette Road in Chickamauga, Ga., according to a news release from the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District.
An investigation found that the employee worked at the restaurant while infectious from March 4 through March 17. While it is relatively rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A virus because of an infected food handler, "there might be some risk to the public," said District Health Director Dr. Unini Odama, "and therefore we are doing everything necessary to protect the public and anyone that might have been inadvertently exposed to the hepatitis A virus."
It's recommend that anyone who consumed food or drink at this restaurant during this time contact their health care provider or local health department to determine if a hepatitis A vaccination is needed to prevent the disease. The hepatitis A vaccine is safe, effective, and well tolerated. It is the best protection against the hepatitis A virus. Additional protective measures, such as immune globulin injections, may be recommended for certain people.
Free hepatitis A vaccinations will be provided at the Catoosa and Walker County Health Departments on Thursday, March 28, 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Friday, March 29, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; and Saturday, March 30 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Catoosa County Health Department, 145 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold, Ga., 706-406-2000
- Walker County Health Department, 603 E. Villanow Street, LaFayette, Ga., 706-638-5577
Anyone who consumed food and/or drink at the restaurant during this time should also:
1. Monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection up to fifty days after exposure.
2. Wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
3. Stay at home and contact your healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and light-colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People can become ill up to fifty days after being exposed to the virus.
Hepatitis A is acquired when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection. Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will prevent spread of this disease.
For more information on hepatitis A, go to www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.