August 29, 2018
Food Service Worker in Florence Diagnosed with Hepatitis A
Risk of exposure to patrons considered to be low
A food service establishment employee at Lee’s Famous Recipe Fried Chicken in Florence, Ky., has been diagnosed with hepatitis A. The employee worked during a period of time when he/she was ill or infectious on August 25th and 26th. To date, exposure to patrons of the establishment has been determined to be low risk. This determination is based on:
- An investigation found that the employee did not have bare-hand contact with food items.
- Health Department site visit did not find violations directly related to poor hygienic practices related to this investigation.
- Guidance from the Kentucky Department for Public Health and Centers for Disease Control considers transmission to patrons to be unlikely under these conditions.
The establishment’s management has been notified of the case and is cooperating with the investigation and response activities. It has implemented enhanced disinfection steps to address surfaces that may have been contaminated. Employees who worked with the involved employee have been informed to get Hep A vaccination to protect against the virus. Co-workers have a greater risk of exposure due to prolonged close contact with the case. Vaccination of associated food service workers helps to protect them against infection which further protects the public. Handwashing and related hygienic practices have been reinforced with the restaurant management and employees. Additionally, the Health Department has directed restaurant employees to self-monitor for any symptoms of Hepatitis A that may develop over the next 50 days.
Since January 2018, 67 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Northern Kentucky, and 1,495 have been reported in the state.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine, and light colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People may have some or none of these symptoms. It could take up to seven weeks after being exposed to the virus for someone to become ill. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection.
Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will prevent the spread of this disease.
Since Kentucky – including the Northern Kentucky region – is experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak, the Northern Kentucky Health Department is strongly encouraging Hepatitis A vaccination for the general public to protect against contracting the illness from any source of exposure. Handwashing remains the primary protection against many illnesses. Any person who believes they may have symptoms of Hep A should contact their health care provider. Additional information regarding Hepatitis A can be found at NKYHealth.org.
Visit https://nkyhealth.org/individual-or-family/health-alerts/hepatitis-a/ for more information.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department provides high quality public health services to more than 400,000 residents of Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton Counties, with a goal of preventing disease, promoting wellness and protecting against health threats. The Health Department seeks to be a nationwide leader in public health and was one of the first in the country to earn national public health accreditation. For more information, visit www.nkyhealth.org.