Somerset Restaurant Worker Contracts Hepatitis-A, Vaccine Urged as a Precaution

Dec 4, 2018

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A restaurant worker in Pulaski County has been diagnosed with Hepatitis-A.  A food handler at Zaxby’s in Somerset was diagnosed with the viral infection over the weekend. 

The Lake Cumberland District Health Department is recommending the Hep-A vaccine for anyone who ate at the restaurant between November 9-30.  The health department’s Preparedness Manager, Amy Tomlinson, says none of the Hepatitis-A cases in Kentucky’s current outbreak have been linked to any restaurants.

"The risk of transmission from a food service employee to a consumer is very, very low, but because we can't say there's zero risk, we're recommending that people consider the vaccination," Tomlinson told WKU Public Radio.

A statement from Zaxby’s says its Somerset restaurant was thoroughly sanitized over the weekend and the Hep-A vaccine is now required as a condition of employment, among other health and safety measures.

"This team member was exposed in the community where Hep A is now widely prevalent. This team member and all food handlers routinely wear gloves, making the risk of transmission extremely low," the statement read. "As a precautionary measure, we are also using a cleaner throughout the restaurant that kills the virus.

The establishment received a 97 on its most recent health inspection. 

Hepatitis-A is a liver infection that’s spread by improper handwashing or close personal contact.

Symptoms of Hepatitis-A can mimic the flu, and in rare cases, cause liver failure and death.  Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, fatigue and fever. 

Hepatitis A cases continue to climb throughout Kentucky with 2,865 cases, including 18 deaths reported through November 24.

The majority of cases have been reported among  illicit drug users and the homeless.