FREE ACCESS: Greene County Health officials investigate Hepatitis A in Linton food establishment

Friday, October 4, 2019

Greene County health officials have investigated a case of hepatitis A in an employee at Papa Johnís Pizza, located at 1810 E. State Road 54 in Linton. An investigation determined that the risk of infection is very low and only applies to patrons who ordered from the establishment after 3 p.m. on Sept. 30.

Although additional cases are unlikely to occur, the food establishment is working with the Health Dept. to prevent any new cases from arising in the community as a result of this case.

Papa Johnís has set up a dedicated toll-free phone line to answer questions at 844-944-2444.

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.

As of Oct. 4, the state health department has confirmed 13 outbreak-related cases of hepatitis A in Greene County since November 2017 and 2,140 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, men who have sex with men 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.

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.

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