An employee at the Applebee’s restaurant located at 4717 Dixie Highway has been diagnosed with acute hepatitis A. As a result, customers who ate at the restaurant from March 23 to April 12, 2018 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. Anyone 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. Since the outbreak began there have been 226 cases diagnosed in Louisville and more than 11,000 vaccinated.
“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 as effective as hand washing against hepatitis A.”
The Department of Public Health and Wellness recommends anyone working in the hospitality industry, particularly those who serve or prepare food and beverages, protect themselves and others by getting the hepatitis A vaccine. The independent business owners of the Applebee’s restaurants in the state of Kentucky as well as surrounding markets in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee will provide free Hepatitis A vaccinations to their employees.
The department and the University of Louisville Global Health Center have partnered to offer below-cost vaccinations to all hospitality workers. The cost of the hepatitis A vaccine has been reduced from $65 to $25. Businesses with more than 20 employees can have a nurse come to their site to provide the immunizations. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees may designate vaccine for their employees to be immunized at U of L’s walk-in clinic. To arrange these employee immunizations, contact Dr. Ruth Carrico at 502-852-1324.
To date more than 50 local food service establishments have chosen to provide their employees the hepatitis A vaccine through this effort.
For more information about hepatitis A visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/health-wellness/hepatitis or call 211.