Maine restaurant-goers warned of hepatitis A exposure

Restaurant patrons in Maine may have been exposed to hepatitis A, according to health officials in the state. 

A worker at the Texas Roadhouse in Bangor handled food while infected with hepatitis A, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. More specifically, the employee may have exposed patrons to hepatitis A on the following dates: Oct. 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27 and 29, 2020. 

“An assessment of the employee’s work duties and illness determined that restaurant patrons may be at risk for hepatitis A infection,” officials said. 

Health officials are now encouraging anyone who worked or ate at the restaurant on the above-listed dates to receive the hepatitis A vaccine “within 14 days of their last exposure.”

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“This includes anyone who had dine-in, take-out, delivery or curbside pickup of food from the restaurant. There is a 14-day window during which the vaccine can reduce the likelihood of illness,” they added. 

However, some dates are no longer within the 14-day time period, namely those who went to the restaurant Oct. 16 through 18. Those people are “advised to watch for symptoms and seek medical attention should symptoms develop. These recommendations are based on the best information available about this case at this time,” said officials.

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“Individuals with compromised immune systems or children younger than 1 year old who visited the restaurant during this time may benefit from hepatitis A immune globulin (IG), upon consultation with their health care providers.”

Hepatitis A, a liver infection, is caused by a virus that typically spreads when a person eats or drinks something contaminated with undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.

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Those who contract hepatitis A – not to be confused with hepatitis B or C, which are caused by different viruses – may be sick for “several weeks” but usually fully recover, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is rare to die from the illness, though hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death, typically in those who are 50 years of age or older.

Symptoms include fever, fatigue, dark urine, vomiting, joint pain and jaundice, among other signs.

The disease is preventable with a vaccine.