State health officials investigate possible Hepatitis A exposure in Laurel restaurant employee

(The following is a press release from the Mississippi State Department of Health.)

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is investigating a case of hepatitis A in a Jones County restaurant employee which may have led to possible exposure for customers. An employee of the Huddle House, 1304 Chantilly Street in Laurel, has been diagnosed with hepatitis A infection. While infectious, the employee worked at the restaurant on January 26th through January 29th. Customers who ate at the restaurant during that time may have been exposed to hepatitis A and should get a hepatitis A vaccination if they have not been previously vaccinated.

Those who think they may have been exposed to this case can receive a hepatitis A vaccination free of charge from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, February 6th and Friday, February 7th at the Jones County Health Department, 5168 Old Highway 11 in Ellisville. “It is unlikely that hepatitis A was transmitted to any customers from this particular case, but as a precaution, we do recommend the hep A vaccine for anyone who ate at the Huddle House from January 26 through January 29 if they have not already been vaccinated,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “The management and staff of this restaurant are fully cooperating with our investigation in order to prevent illnesses as a result of this exposure.” Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that causes fever, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), abdominal pain and dark colored urine. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool (feces) from an infected person. If you think you have symptoms of hepatitis A, you should contact your healthcare provider. Everyone can prevent the spread of hepatitis A by carefully washing hands with soap and water, including under the fingernails, after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food. As a reminder, there is an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in Mississippi and surrounding states affecting those who use drugs, those who are in jail or were recently in jail, those with unstable housing or who are homeless, and men who have sex with men. The MSDH continues to recommend hepatitis A vaccination for those specific groups as well. Follow information about the current hepatitis A outbreak in Mississippi at HealthyMS.com/HepA.

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