Sunday October 21, 2018
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Employee At St. Matthews Denny’s Diagnosed With Hepatitis A Virus

An employee of Denny’s restaurant at 4030 Dutchman’s Lane in St. Matthews has been diagnosed with acute hepatitis A.   Another employee at the same restaurant was diagnosed with acute hepatitis A in March.  The two cases are not related.

Customers who ate at this Denny’s from May 4, 2018 to May 24, 2018 may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.  While the risk of contracting hepatitis A from eating at this restaurant is low, the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness is issuing this advisory out of an abundance of caution.  The hepatitis A outbreak remains centered among the homeless and those who use illegal drugs.

When a food service worker is diagnosed with hepatitis A, he or she is immediately excluded from work and not allowed to return without release from his or her medical provider.  Additionally, all employees at the establishment are vaccinated and disinfection and sanitation practices are followed. The St. Matthews Denny’s scored 93-A and 94-A on its last two health inspections.

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 and has recommended that all residents be vaccinated.  Since the outbreak began there have been 413 cases diagnosed in Louisville and more than 66,500 vaccinated.

“Food-borne transmission has not been a factor in this outbreak,” said Dr. Lori Caloia, medical director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.  “The virus continues to be transmitted person-to-person, primarily among those who use illegal drugs and the homeless.  We have had a very small number of food workers diagnosed with hepatitis A and the restaurant industry throughout Louisville continues to get their workers immunized.  More than 5,700 local food service employees have been vaccinated against hepatitis A.”

Reduced-cost vaccinations continue to be available to restaurant workers.  Restaurant workers wishing to be vaccinated should contact their managers for details.

The best ways to prevent hepatitis A infection are to get vaccinated and to practice good handwashing. “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,” Dr. Caloia added.  “Hand sanitizer is not as effective as hand washing against hepatitis A.”

For more information about hepatitis A visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/health-wellness/hepatitis  or call 211.

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