7th food worker in eastern Kentucky county diagnosed with hepatitis A

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ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Another food service worker in an eastern Kentucky county was diagnosed with hepatitis A.

Officials with the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department said an employee at the McDonald's in the 2000 block of Winchester Ave. in Ashland was diagnosed Wednesday.

This is the seventh food worker to be diagnosed with hepatitis A in Boyd County this year.

Health officials say the risk of customers becoming infected is very low.

"McDonald's is working with the health department to prevent any new cases from arising in the community as a result of this case," health department officials wrote in a press release on Thursday.

The growing number of cases is part of a multi-state outbreak.

Health department officials said all employees at the McDonald's got the hepatitis A vaccine prior to the employee being diagnosed Wednesday. The person who was diagnosed also had the vaccine.

McDonald's previously created a policy requiring all workers to get the hepatitis A vaccine.

The Winchester Ave. location voluntarily closed for disinfection after becoming aware of the diagnosed case.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine, light colored stools, and yellowing of the skin or eyes. Health officials said people can have some or none of these symptoms and it can take up to 50 days after exposure for someone to become ill. However, most people notice symptoms within 28 to 30 days of exposure.

Health department officials say the disease is usually spread when a person unknowingly ingests it from food, drinks or other objects that are contaminated with the infected person's stool.

Earlier this month, an employee who handled food at RJ Kahuna's on U.S. 60 in Ashland was diagnosed with the disease, according to the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department.

Officials at the health department say they investigated and the risk of customers becoming infected is "very low."

All of the restaurant's employees were required to get the hepatitis A vaccine before returning to work. RJ Kahuna's voluntarily closed to allow for the employees' vaccinations to develop an immunity.

"RJ Kahuna's is working with the health department to prevent any new cases from arising in the community as a result of this case," health officials stated in a press release.

Even earlier this month, health officials reported an employee who handled food at the Dairy Queen on 13th Street in Ashland was diagnosed.

"The investigation found that the risk of restaurant patrons becoming infected is very low," health officials stated in a press release. "Dairy Queen is working with the health department to prevent any new cases from arising in the community as a result of this case."

Dairy Queen released the following statement:

"We have received notification that one of our employees fell ill and tested positive with the Hepatitis A virus. With the health and safety of our customers and employees being paramount, the store was immediately sanitized and disinfected, in accordance with health department regulations. In addition, we have also put additional procedures in place to ensure employees are adhering to strict health and sanitation policies. Store ownership and management will continue to work closely with Ashland-Boyd County Health Department officials.

Employees received a Hepatitis A vaccination or will be receiving the Hepatitis A vaccination before returning to work.

Please know that the health and safety of our customers and employees is a top priority."

The Kentucky Department for Public Health recommended that anyone who lives in Boyd, Carter, Greenup, Hardin, Bullitt, and Jefferson counties get the vaccine.

"Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable illness," stated Dr. Jeffrey Howard, acting DPH commissioner. "DPH recommends all children, ages 1 year through 18, receive the Hepatitis A vaccine as well as adults who want to protect themselves from an acute hepatitis A infection. In these counties with local transmission of the hepatitis A virus, we recommend everyone be vaccinated per guidelines to help stop this outbreak."



 
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