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

Creative Commons

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. 

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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