The Ashland-Boyd County Health Department is investigating after a food preparation worker was diagnosed with Hepatitis A.
According to the ABCHD, an employee prepared food at the fresh food counter at Ken’s Express Mart on 29th Street in Ashland, Kentucky during the infectious period.
The window of possible exposure is from Thursday, March 22nd through Saturday, April 7th, 2018.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that it can take up to 50 days from exposure develop hepatitis A symptoms.
There is only a two-week window for an exposed individual to receive the Hepatitis A vaccine. Vaccines that are given more than 14 days after a known exposure to hepatitis A virus may not be effective in preventing hepatitis A.
People in the community who wish to prevent hepatitis A disease from a future exposure should be immunized as a preventive measure. The last date for the post-exposure vaccine is Thursday, April 19th, 2018.
The ABCHD says that Ken’s Express Mart owner and employees have cooperated fully with the local and state health officials to identify all employee contacts. Employees are only allowed to work if they have received the Hepatitis A vaccine.
Ken’s Express Mart has been notifying customers of the potential exposure that occurred to Hepatitis A.
According to the CDC:
“Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection. Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice, that usually resolve within 2 months of infection; most children less than 6 years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. Antibodies produced in response to hepatitis A infection last for life and protect against reinfection. The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated.”
According to the ABCHD, Hepatitis A is a robust virus that can live for months outside of the human body. It is very difficult to kill and most common cleaning fluids are not effective against the virus. Handwashing with soap and water is needed. Waterless hand sanitizers are also not effective at killing the hepatitis A virus.
The ABCHD says the most common risk factors for hepatitis A are:
- Traveling to a country where hepatitis A is common
- Being in the same household as or having sexual contact with a person with hepatitis A
- Being a man who has sex with men
- Using illicit drugs whether injected or not.
Anyone who is experiencing symptoms should immediately contact their physician or seek other medical attention.
Anyone with possible exposure and not experiencing symptoms is encouraged to contact their healthcare provider or the health department for a post-exposure hepatitis A vaccine.