Employees at two local food service establishments have been diagnosed with hepatitis A:
An employee of the Kroger store at 520 N 35th St. Customers who shopped at the store from March 2-19 may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.
An employee of Sarino restaurant at 1030 Goss Ave. Customers who ate at the restaurant from February 24 through March 15 may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.
Symptoms of hepatitis A are fatigue, decreased appetite, stomach pain, nausea, darkened urine, pale stools and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). People can become ill 15 to 50 days after being exposed to the virus. Customers experiencing symptoms should seek medical attention.
Hepatitis A is usually transmitted by putting something in your mouth such as an object, food or drink, which has been in contact with the feces of an infected person. In November, the Kentucky Department for Public Health declared a statewide hepatitis A outbreak. To date there have been 159 cases diagnosed in Louisville.
“The best ways to prevent hepatitis A infection are to get vaccinated and to practice good handwashing,” said Dr. Lori Caloia, medical director. “Washing your hands thoroughly and often with warm water and soap, especially before preparing meals or eating, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper is a proven way to prevent the spread of diseases. Hand sanitizer is not effective against hepatitis A.”
“We are vaccinating employees at both locations to protect them and prevent the further spread of the disease,” added Dr. Caloia. “And Kroger is donating 100 doses of the vaccine to assist with curtailing the outbreak. We encourage other businesses to either donate vaccine or immunize their employees against hepatitis A,” said Dr. Caloia.
“As we approach a very fun and busy spring season in Louisville,” Caloia added, “we are encouraging all food service establishments to be vigilant in emphasizing good hygiene and sanitation practices. We also encourage food service workers to get vaccinated.”
People who wish to get the hepatitis A vaccine should see their doctor or primary care provider. The vaccine is also available at Kroger Little Clinics and pharmacies, as well as Walgreens, Rite Aid and the University of Louisville Pharmacy, 550 S. Jackson St. The hepatitis A vaccination is covered by most insurance plans.
Food service establishments wishing to provide hepatitis A vaccine for their employees can contact Dr. Ruth Carrico at the University of Louisville Global Health Center at 502-852-1324. You can pay for and designate vaccine for your employees at their walk-in clinic, or, if you have 20 or more employees, the clinic nurses can come to your site.