A hepatitis A case previously labeled as probable has been confirmed by lab tests, bringing Lexington’s total confirmed cases to four.
The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department has been working to stop the spread of hepatitis A, which to date has been limited to two households in Fayette County. The health department’s Public Health Clinic provided Immune Globulin and hepatitis A vaccine to nine close, personal contacts on Friday to reduce the chances they get sick. A close, personal contact is someone who spent an extended period at the household, shared food, drinks or cigarettes or who had sexual contact with one of the hepatitis A cases.
One of the confirmed cases worked briefly at O’Charley’s restaurant, 2895 Richmond Road. The health department’s investigation to this point indicates this person had a low risk of transmitting the disease while working at O’Charley’s. The risk is low because the person was not working there during the most infectious period and did not work there very long.
The health department’s investigation shows that none of the four confirmed cases caught hepatitis A from the restaurant. At this time, nobody has reported any hepatitis A-related symptoms from having eaten at the restaurant.
To be on the safe side, people who ate at the restaurant between May 22 and June 1 should monitor for signs and symptoms of hepatitis A until July 21. Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), dark-colored urine, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and fever. Anyone with symptoms should contact his or her physician and the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department at 288-7529.
The hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of people infected with hepatitis A and is usually spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth (even though it might look clean) that has been contaminated with the stool of a person infected with hepatitis A. It is often transmitted when people do not wash their hands properly or by eating uncooked or undercooked food.
The best way to keep from getting hepatitis A is to wash your hands using warm water and soap, to handle uncooked food appropriately and to fully cook food. Always wash your hands before touching or eating food, after using the toilet and after changing a diaper. When soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers.