N.C. Olive Garden at Center Of Hepatitis Scare

Hundreds of patrons have been potentially exposed to <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/hepatitis">hepatitis A after dining at a Fayetteville, North Carolina, Olive Garden.

MSNBC reported that a food worker infected with the blood borne disease might be at the root of the exposure. So far, over 250 people were immunized by the Cumberland County Public Health Department, according to the Food Poison Journal.

Earlier this week, an Olive Garden food server tested positive for hepatitis A and advised Olive Garden. Health Officials in Fayetteville advise diners or employees who ate at the Fayetteville Olive Garden restaurant in the prior two weeks that they might have been exposed to hepatitis A, said MSNBC. The health department in that county is offering hepatitis A vaccines at its walk-in clinic to people exposed to the disease.

As we’ve previously written, individuals exposed to hepatitis A should receive an immune globulin (IG) or a hepatitis A vaccination within 2 weeks of exposure to a person who is contagious with the hepatitis A infection. Individuals who have been vaccinated for hepatitis A or who have had the illness in the past are protected from hepatitis A infections, and there is no need for further action.

Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus, which may be spread by consuming food or drink that has been handled by an infected person. It may also be spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of a person with Hepatitis A. Casual contact does not spread the virus.

According to MSNBC, contact with even a very minute amount of infected fecal matter is sufficient to pass the virus.

The symptoms of Hepatitis A may range from mild to severe and include an abrupt onset of fever, fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).

The disease is rarely fatal and most people recover in a few weeks without any complications. The symptoms commonly appear within 28 days of exposure, with a range of 15-50 days. There are no special medicines or antibiotics that can be used to treat a person once symptoms appear. Generally bed rest is all that is needed.

Thorough hand washing after bathroom use and before, during, and after food preparation is the most important means in which to prevent the spread of hepatitis A and other intestinal illnesses.

Sharing of food and utensils should be discouraged especially whenever anyone is ill. MSNBC notes that thorough hand washing of the entire hand, including the wrist, between the fingers, and under the fingernails is suggested for no less than 20 seconds.

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