Health officials in the Roanoke, VA, area say the number of hepatitis A infections linked to three Famous Anthony’s restaurants has more than doubled, with 20 people requiring hospitalization.
The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts report the patient count jumped from 14 to 35 cases since the most recent update, according to WFXR radio.
The case count on Sept. 28 was 14 with at least three people hospitalized, according to District Director Cynthia Morrow. She said earlier this week in an update that additional cases beyond those now confirmed 35 are likely because of the long incubation time for the virus. It can take up to 50 days for symptoms to develop after exposure.
Health officials first reported the outbreak on Sept. 24, saying that a person who worked at three different Famous Anthony’s locations tested positive for the highly contagious infection.
Morrow reported that there have been “handfuls” secondary cases. This is because people infected with the virus passed it on to others. There are not many cases of secondary infections in large clusters.
Public health officials are encouraging anyone who visited any of the three implicated Famous Anthony’s restaurants between Aug. 10 and Aug. 26 to continue to monitor themselves for symptoms.
The three locations are:
4913 Grandin Road
6499 Williamson Road
2221 Crystal Spring Avenue
Although there is a vaccine to prevent the highly contagious virus from infecting the liver, it appears that the worker at the restaurant was not vaccinated. Food service workers are generally not required to be vaccinated by employers. A post-exposure vaccine is available, but it must not be administered within two weeks after exposure. The current outbreak was not detected until then.
Anyone who has eaten or drank from any of these restaurants and develops symptoms associated with hepatitis A must immediately seek medical attention. They should also inform their doctors about possible exposure.
Symptoms include jaundice, yellowing of the skin and eyes, fever, fatigue loss of appetite nausea vomiting abdominal pain dark urine or light-colored stool, dark urine, or light-colored stool.
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