Health Officials Warn Of Possible Exposure To Hepatitis A At Ann Arbor Restaurant

ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – Health officials are alerting residents in the Ann Arbor area about possible exposure to a viral disease.

Washtenaw County Public Health, in media release out Thursday, said it has confirmed a case of Hepatitis A in a local restaurant worker.

The diagnosed individual works at Cardamom Restaurant located at 1739 Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor. Anyone who ate at the restaurant between September 16 and October 3 may have been exposed, health officials say.

As Hepatitis A can cause damage to the liver and other health problems, the Washtenaw County Public Health is working closely with the restaurant to vaccinate all employees and to eliminate any additional risk of exposure.

Officials say the individual with hepatitis A infection is not currently working and is receiving medical care.

“While hepatitis A can be very serious, we are fortunate to have an effective vaccine available,” said Jessie Kimbrough Marshall, MD, MPH, medical director with Washtenaw County Public Health. “We encourage anyone concerned about potential exposure to talk with their health care provider or Washtenaw County Public Health as soon as possible. Vaccination is strongly encouraged for all eligible individuals, as multiple counties in southeast Michigan have seen outbreaks of hepatitis A in recent months.”

Anyone who has consumed food and/or drink at Cardamom since Saturday, September 16, should monitor for symptoms of hepatitis A including fatigue, poor appetite, stomach pain or tenderness, nausea or vomiting, dark urine and yellowing of the skin (jaundice). Most children under 6 years do not experience symptoms. Symptoms typically appear 2 to 6 weeks after exposure. Individuals with symptoms should call their provider or seek care.

Vaccination is recommended for the following at–risk individuals:

  • Health care workers who have direct contact with patients
  • People who use injection and non-injection illegal drugs
  • People who participate in commercial exchange of sexual practices
  • People who are homeless or in transient living situations
  • People who are or have recently been incarcerated
  • Close personal contacts (e.g., household, sexual) of hepatitis A patients
  • Food handlers
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People with liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Persons with chronic liver disease have an elevated risk of death from liver failure.
  • Any person who wishes to be immune to hepatitis A
  • People who live, work, or recreate in SE Michigan and are concerned about getting hepatitis A

The vaccine is available from health care providers, at pharmacies and at Washtenaw County Public Health.

How is it spread?

The hepatitis A virus is most commonly spread from person-to-person by the fecal-oral route. Most infections result from contact with an infected household member or sex partners. Sometimes, infection results from food or drink that is contaminated with the virus. It is not spread through coughs or sneezes. Anyone who has hepatitis A can spread it to others for 1-2 weeks before symptoms appear.

Frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom and before handling food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. Appropriately cooking foods can also help prevent infection. Freezing does not kill the virus.

Outbreak in Southeast Michigan

There have been 341 cases of hepatitis A diagnosed in Southeast Michigan since August 2016, a sixteen-fold increase compared to the previous year. As of October 5, 2017, Washtenaw County has not been identified as a part of this outbreak. It is not yet known if this currently diagnosed case is related to the outbreak.

Learn more about the Southeast Michigan outbreak at www.mi.gov/hepatitisaoutbreak. Another good source of information isThe  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.

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