Health Dept. Warns of Possible Hepatitis A Exposure at AR Taco Bell

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) continues to investigate the recent case of Hepatitis A Virus (Hep A).

This is an evolving investigation, and ADH will release more information if it becomes necessary.

The Clay County health units will hold special walk-in clinics over the next few days to provide vaccinations:

•    Friday, February 16 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Corning and Piggot locations.
•    Saturday, February 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Corning location.
•    Sunday, February 18 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Corning location.
•    Monday, February 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Corning location.

Original story: 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is warning of a possible Hepatitis A Virus (Hep A) exposure after a Taco Bell employee in Corning tested positive for the virus.

The Taco Bell is located at 200 North Missouri Avenue, Corning, AR 72422.

Any individual who has eaten food at this location between January 24 and February 7 and is experiencing symptoms should contact their primary care provider immediately.

There are no specific treatments once a person gets Hep A. However, it can be prevented through vaccination or through receipt of a medicine called immune globulin. This medicine contains antibodies from other people who are immune to Hep A and works best if given within 2 weeks of exposure. For example, if you ate at this location on February 1, you would need to seek care by February 15 (tomorrow).  

Typical symptoms of Hep A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). Hep A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. A person can transmit the virus to others up to two weeks before and one week after symptoms appear. 

People without symptoms who have eaten at this Taco Bell between February 1 and February 7, 2018 and are:
•    Under one year of age are too young to be vaccinated and may wish to seek out immune globulin from a health care provider.  
•    Between one year to 40 years of age and have never been vaccinated for Hep A may wish to seek out vaccination from a health care provider. Those who are pregnant, have chronic illness or liver disease are especially encouraged to consult with their doctor.
•    41-years-old and older and have never been vaccinated for Hep A may wish to seek out immune globulin.

Vaccination is not known to be effective in this group post-exposure.

As a matter of policy, restaurant employees use disposable gloves between customers and while preparing food. These behaviors have likely reduced the risk of illness to the public. There is no known risk to anyone who ate at this location after February 7, 2018 at this time.

The Clay County Health Unit, located at 1009 S. Garfield Ave, Piggott AR 72454, will have immune globulin and Hep A vaccine which can be administered upon request with an appointment on or after February 15, 2018.  If you wish to get one of these medicines from the health department, please call 870-598-3390 to make an appointment.  

The virus can cause illness anytime from two to seven weeks after exposure. If infected, most people will develop symptoms three to four weeks after exposure.

Hep A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter—even in microscopic amounts—from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces, or stool, of an infected person. Many people, especially children, may have no symptoms.  The older a person is when they get Hep A, typically the more severe symptoms they have. Almost all people who get Hep A recover completely and do not have any lasting liver damage, although they may feel sick for months. 

Hepatitis A is preventable through vaccination. Hepatitis A vaccine has been recommended for school children for many years and one dose of Hep A vaccine is required for entry into kindergarten and first grade as of 2014. Most adults are likely not vaccinated, but may have been if they received vaccinations prior to traveling internationally. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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