Employee at White Castle in Louisville diagnosed with hepatitis A virus

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (June 14, 2018) – An employee of the White Castle restaurant at 2350 Greene Way in Louisville has been diagnosed with acute hepatitis A.

Customers who ate at this White Castle from May 29, 2018 to June 8, 2018 may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.  While the risk of contracting hepatitis A from eating at this restaurant is low, the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness is issuing this advisory out of an abundance of caution. The hepatitis A outbreak remains centered among those who use illegal drugs and the homeless.

When a food service worker is diagnosed with hepatitis A, he or she is immediately excluded from work and not allowed to return without release from his or her medical provider.  Additionally, all employees at the establishment are vaccinated and disinfection and sanitation practices are followed. This White Castle scored 95-A and 100-A and on its last two health inspections.

Symptoms of hepatitis A are fatigue, decreased appetite, stomach pain, nausea, darkened urine, pale stools and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). People can become ill 15 to 50 days after being exposed to the virus. Anyone experiencing symptoms should seek medical attention.

Hepatitis A is usually transmitted by putting something in your mouth such as an object, food or drink, which has been in contact with the feces of an infected person. In November, the Kentucky Department for Public Health declared a statewide hepatitis A outbreak and has recommended that all residents be vaccinated. Since the outbreak began there have been 457 cases diagnosed in Louisville and more than 75,000 vaccinated.

“Food-borne transmission has not been a factor in this outbreak,” said Dr. Lori Caloia, medical director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. “The virus continues to be transmitted person-to-person, primarily among those who use illegal drugs and the homeless. We have had a small number of food workers diagnosed with hepatitis A and the restaurant industry throughout Louisville continues to get their workers immunized. More than 5,800 local food service employees have been vaccinated against hepatitis A.”

Reduced-cost vaccinations continue to be available to restaurant workers. Restaurant workers wishing to be vaccinated should contact their managers for details.

The best ways to prevent hepatitis A infection are to get vaccinated and to practice good handwashing. “Washing your hands thoroughly and often with warm water and soap, especially before preparing meals or eating, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper is a proven way to prevent the spread of diseases,” Dr. Caloia added. “Hand sanitizer is not as effective as hand washing against hepatitis A.”

For more information about hepatitis A visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/health-wellness/hepatitis or call 211.

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