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Local confirmed cases of Hepatitis A now at 54


The Montgomery County Health Dept. has responded to reported cases of Hepatitis A in an employee of Cracker Barrel, located at 110 Stone Trace Drive, and one at KFC, which is located at 109 Ragland Ave. The employee at Cracker Barrel was not directly involved in food preparation.

The employee at KFC was involved in food preparation, a release said.
The health dept. immediately conducted restaurant inspections at both locations to confirm the restaurants are following required food handling regulations, including ensuring all food handlers wear gloves and are using a surface cleaner that kills the Hepatitis A virus. Both facilities passed inspection and were found to be extremely clean and following all safe food handling procedures.

Management of both Cracker Barrel and KFC have cooperated fully with the health dept. and have taken additional steps to protect customers and employees. As a safety precaution, Cracker Barrel and KFC have partnered with the Montgomery County Health Dept. to vaccinate employees at these locations. Cracker Barrel has also conducted a deep cleaning of the restaurant. KFC reports that all work surfaces and cookware have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, which is done on a continual basis, a release said.

While the risk of transmission to the public has been determined to be low from these reported cases, individuals who visited Cracker Barrel from Aug. 19 to Sept. 2 or KFC from Aug. 27 to Sept. 10th should be aware of possible symptoms. The most common symptoms of Hepatitis A are nausea, vomiting, weight loss, fatigue, fever, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), joint pain, light colored stools and dark colored urine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states it can take up to 50 days from exposure to Hepatitis A for symptoms to develop.

There have now been 54 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A in Montgomery County. It is important to know that while transmission can occur through food, the risk is low. The main mode of transmission is person-to-person, close contact to someone with Hepatitis A. A close contact is someone who lives in the home, is a sex partner, or shares injection drug equipment with someone who has Hepatitis A. If you are a close contact of someone who has Hepatitis A, you need to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Do not delay vaccination.

Hepatitis A is spread through the fecal-oral route. The virus is shed in the stool of someone when they are infectious. Therefore, if someone does not wash their hands well after using the restroom, the virus can be transmitted to other surfaces. If someone touches these surfaces, and then puts something in their mouth (eats, drinks, smokes, chews their fingernails, etc.) then the virus can enter their body. It is important that everyone practice good hand hygiene after using the bathroom and before eating or placing their hands in their mouth.

Someone with Hepatitis A is infectious two weeks before they develop symptoms and/or jaundice to one week after they develop symptoms and/or jaundice. Therefore, people can unknowingly transmit the infection to others when they still feel well.

There have been no deaths at this time in Montgomery County. However, many people who have developed Hepatitis A have been hospitalized. Although people are not contagious the whole time, most become severely ill with symptoms lasting from several weeks up to several months in severe cases. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms should immediately contact their physician or seek other medical attention.

With the number of Hepatitis A cases continuing to rise in the county and throughout the state, anyone who wishes to prevent Hepatitis A disease should be vaccinated. Most insurance plans will pay for the Hepatitis A vaccine. The vaccine is now required for all children in daycare, preschool/school, or home-schooled children who participate in school activities. If you are unsure whether your child has been vaccinated, please contact your child’s primary care provider. If your child has not been vaccinated, please do so immediately.

For more information about Hepatitis A, visit www.cdc.gov/hepatitis (Para obtener información en español, visite http://montgomerycountyhealth.com/la-hepatitis-a-y-la-vacuna-que-la-previene/).