2 More Food Service Employees Diagnosed with Hep A in Kanawha and Putnam Counties

PUTNAM COUNTY, WV (WOWK) - The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has confirmed Hepatitis A cases in 2 more food service workers.

One employee at both the American Inn at 419 Hurricane Creek Road in Hurricane, WV and Buck’s Pizza at 4001 First Avenue in Nitro, WV have been diagnosed. This is part of an investigation involving the Hepatitis A outbreak began in February.

The infectious period, when the employee could have potentially transmitted the disease, are April 26th through May 16th for the American Inn, and April 13th through May 2nd for Buck’s Pizza.

As a precaution, family members and coworkers at each site are receiving Hepatitis A immunizations, according to CDC protocols.

When an individual working at a food service establishment is diagnosed, KCHD officials do an onsite inspection to review food-handling practices. This includes talking with employees and observing food-handling procedures.

Stanley Mills, director of environmental health services, identified no unsafe food handling practices at the facilities warranting the health department issue warnings to patrons suggesting immunizations because of possible exposure.

Public transmission by a food handler is uncommon if restaurant employees follow proper handwashing requirements and wear gloves. Food handlers are not at increased risk for Hepatitis A because of their occupation unless they have identified risk factors or personal contact with a person who has risk factors.

Although transmission risk is extremely low, the health department recommends patrons who consumed food or drinks at the restaurants monitor for Hepatitis A symptoms.

The symptoms include abdominal pain, dark urine, fatigue, fever, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), light-colored stools, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. If symptoms occur, seek medical attention.

Work schedules for employees during that period are not immediately available. The possibility of transmission is present only when the employee was working at the facility.

West Virginia has been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of a multistate Hepatitis A outbreak. Transmission in cases in states involved with the outbreak has been by person-to person contact occurring primarily among persons who are homeless or who use injection and non-injection drugs and their close direct contacts.

The Bureau for Public Health is providing free Hepatitis A vaccine for high-risk groups in outbreak counties. High-risk groups include close personal contacts of persons diagnosed with Hepatitis A, drug users and the homeless. The health department screens for insurance eligibility before using the state-supplied vaccine.

Additional information can be found on the health department website or by calling the health department at 304-348-8050.

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