HURRICANE, WV (WOWK) – The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has confirmed a hepatitis A case in a food service worker at a Taco Bell in Putnam County.
The employee worked at the Taco Bell at 4152 on WV Route 34 in Hurricane, West Virginia. Taco Bell’s corporate office sent out the following statement:
“As soon as the operator of the Hurricane, West Virginia Taco Bell location learned that a team member tested positive for the Hepatitis A virus, the franchisee began working immediately with Taco Bell and local health officials, following all protocols established by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. The team member in question is on leave and won’t return to work until cleared by medical professionals. All team members currently working at this restaurant have been vaccinated, and the restaurant was thoroughly sanitized. Additionally, all team members have been offered additional training on illness policies and procedures. Ensuring the health and wellbeing of our team members and our customers is our highest priority, which is why we are taking this matter so seriously. The Kanawha-Charleston Health Officials recommend customers who consumed food or drink at this Taco Bell location between May 19 and June 12 to monitor for Hepatitis A symptoms.” – Taco Bell Corp.
This is part of an investigation involving a hepatitis A outbreak that began in February and has been linked to a national outbreak.
As a precaution, family members and coworkers are receiving Hepatitis A immunizations, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols.
When an individual working at a food service establishment is diagnosed, KCHD sanitarians 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 either facility warranting the health department issue warnings to patrons suggesting immunizations because of possible exposure.
Public transmission by a food service worker is uncommon if employees follow proper handwashing requirements and wear gloves.
No hepatitis A has been transmitted to restaurant patrons in Kanawha and Putnam Counties.
Food service workers are not at increased risk for hepatitis A because of their occupation unless they have identified risk factors or personal contact with someone with risk factors.
Transmission risk is extremely low. The health department recommends patrons who consumed food or drinks at either restaurant monitor for hepatitis A symptoms.
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.
The infectious period when the Taco Bell employee could have potentially transmitted the disease, is May 19th to June 12th. The possibility of transmission is present only when the employee was working at the facility.
West Virginia has been identified by the CDC 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 the homeless or those using 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.
Vaccinations are available to the following groups: homeless, close personal contact (including sexual) to someone who is homeless or using drugs, household contact to someone who is homeless or using drugs, exposure or contact to someone who has hepatitis A, food service workers, recently incarcerated and direct service providers to the homeless and people who use drugs.
The health department screens for insurance eligibility before using the state-supplied vaccine.
Additional information can be found on the health department website www.kchdwv.org or by calling the health department at 304-348-8050.