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Franklin County records 22nd case of Hepatitis A; fast food restaurant closes voluntarily for cleaning

Kentucky Health News

A Frankfort fast-food restaurant closed for cleanup after one of its employees was found to have the liver disease hepatitis A, usually caused by ingestion of fecal material.

“The risk of infection from this food-service worker is very low due to hand-hygiene requirements at Hardee’s and all eating establishments,” Franklin County Health Department Director Judy Mattingly said in a news release.

The restaurant, at 1248 South US 127, “voluntarily closed . . . for a thorough cleaning and sanitizing after being notified,” and ensured that all employees received a hepatitis A vaccination immediately, said the release, posted on the department’s Facebook page.

The department later posted, “Prior to Oct. 4 the food service worker was in roles wearing gloves, or roles where there was no contact with food. So, the minimal risk of exposure occurred on Oct. 4. Any concerned community member should get a hepatitis A vaccine before Oct. 18.”

“It’s the 22nd case of the virus in Franklin County during the ongoing outbreak in Kentucky — called the worst in the nation,” Josh Bergeron of The State Journal reports. “From Aug. 1, 2017, to Sept. 22, the latest available numbers, the hepatitis A outbreak in Kentucky numbered 1,851 cases, with 1,029 hospitalizations and 14 deaths. In Franklin County, there had been 21 total cases reported as of Sept. 22. A majority of the reported cases in Kentucky have been linked to illicit drug use.”

Hepatitis A can cause fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, fever, stomach pain, brown urine, light-colored stools, and yellowing of the eyes or skin or eyes. People may have some of these symptoms or none of them; a person can transmit the disease without showing symptoms and can become ill from the virus up to seven weeks after being exposed to it.

The disease “usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person,” the news release said. “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.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the hepatitis A vaccination for the following groups:

• 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 injection and non-injection illegal drugs
• People with chronic (lifelong) liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C

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