Health officials investigate hepatitis A case in Linton
Greene County health officials have investigated a case of hepatitis A in a local food handler at Long John Silvers in Linton and have determined that the risk of infection is very low for patrons who visited the restaurant earlier this month.
“Although additional cases are unlikely to occur, the food establishment is working with us to prevent any new cases from arising in the community as a result of this case,” said RN Jennifer Brinegar of the Greene County Health Department.
Indiana is one of several states experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak, so all residents are urged to consult their healthcare providers and pharmacies for a hepatitis A vaccine as preventive care.
Careful handwashing with soap and running water is also recommended, especially before preparing food.
Greene County Health Department has been working with Long John Silvers since Tuesday to confirm an infected employee and to ensure proper cleaning measures have been taken. The health department has been in close contact with the Indiana State Department of Health to determine the level of risk for co-workers and patrons.
This concluded Wednesday afternoon with the decision from ISDH that this was a low-risk situation for co-workers and anyone that visited the restaurant in the last few weeks.
As of August 30, the state health department has confirmed 10 outbreak-related cases of hepatitis A in Greene County since November 2017 and 2,043 outbreak-related cases in Indiana, which typically sees about 20 cases in a 12-month period. None of the outbreak cases has been caused by an infected food worker.
Indiana law has required a hepatitis A vaccine for school admission since 2014, and the vaccine was required for students entering sixth and twelfth grades in 2018, so many students have already been vaccinated.
Hepatitis A is usually transmitted person-to-person through fecal-oral routes or by consuming contaminated food or water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies those most at risk during this outbreak as people who use illicit drugs, the homeless, homosexuals and those who are incarcerated.
Indiana health officials have been working to educate the public, restaurants, jails, groups that serve homeless populations and those who use illicit drugs about the outbreak and ways to prevent the disease. ISDH also provides outbreak updates on its website hepAfacts.isdh.in.gov.
Anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A should contact a healthcare provider immediately and refrain from preparing food for others. Symptoms can include fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice, which usually appear within two months of infection. Individuals can become ill 15 to 50 days after being exposed to the virus. A doctor can determine if someone has hepatitis A with a blood test.