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Possible transmission of Hepatitis A at Olive Garden in Fayetteville

For release: Immediate    August 9, 2011
Contact: Renee McCoy, 919-855-4840
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Or
Cumberland County Public Health Department
Contact: Buck Wilson, Director
Telephone: 910-433-3700 or 910-703-1207
E-mail:
BWilson@co.cumberland.nc.us

FAYETTEVILLE – – State public health officials are cautioning anyone in the state who may have visited the Olive Garden restaurant at 234 North McPherson Church Road in Fayetteville, N.C., anytime on July 25, 26, 28, 29, 31 and Aug. 1, 2 and 8 that they may have been exposed to Hepatitis A through a restaurant employee. Individuals who may have been exposed should be immunized against the virus immediately.

“Generally, vaccination is effective in preventing infection if given within two weeks of exposure,” Dr. Megan Davies, state epidemiologist said. “We encourage anyone who ate at the restaurant on any of the dates mentioned to contact their own health care provider or their local health department about vaccination. Individuals current on Hepatitis A vaccine are considered protected from this virus. ”

Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for healthy persons from 12 months to 40 years old. However, for anyone who cannot take the vaccine, Hepatitis A immune globulin is recommended for persons:

  • Over the age of 40 years.
  • Children under the age of 12 months.
  • Immune-compromised persons who have been diagnosed with chronic liver disease or who have been advised to avoid the vaccine due to potential adverse reactions.
  • Pregnant women and nursing mothers.

It is possible that restaurant patrons prior to July 25 may have been exposed. While the vaccine is not effective for these patrons, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms and discuss with your primary care physician.

The early signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A appear two to six weeks after exposure and commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, dark urine, light color stools and jaundice (yellowness of eyes or skin).

The disease varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting 4-6 weeks or longer. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice or any symptom at all, and may have an illness so mild that it can go unnoticed. However, even mildly ill persons can still be highly infectious. Persons with illness suggestive of hepatitis should consult a physician even if symptoms are mild.

Hepatitis A virus is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter – even in microscopic amounts – from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces or stool of an infected person. Persons are at increased risk of acquiring Hepatitis A when they have been in close and continuous contact with an infected individual, particularly in a household. Fecal matter can remain on the hands unless hands are washed often and thoroughly.

Careful handwashing is key to preventing spread of Hepatitis A and should include vigorous washing of hands with soap and running water for minimum of 20 seconds. All surfaces should be washed including the back of the hands, wrists, between fingers and under fingernails. For more information, visit http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/gcdc/hav.html

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