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Restaurant Employee Confirmed for Hepatitis A Virus; Niagara Falls Taco Bell Patrons During Specific Timeframe May Have Been Exposed

Author: Jacquelyn Langdon/Wednesday, December 4, 2019/Categories: Health, Health Events

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Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton announces a case of Hepatitis A virus in a local restaurant worker. The Niagara County Department of Health (NCDOH) launched a disease investigation on December 3, 2019 directly after receiving notification of the suspected case. Following laboratory testing, interviews and a restaurant inspection, an employee who handles food at Taco Bell on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Niagara Falls was identified with the Hepatitis A virus. The establishment has been notified of the potential exposure and the manager has sent the sick employee home. Additionally, the NCDOH has advised the manager to send any staff reporting Hepatitis A virus related symptoms for medical evaluation before returning to work. Employees of the restaurant will be offered post exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Taco Bell in Niagara Falls will be subject to additional inspections over the coming weeks and is complying with NCDOH recommendations.

As a result of this potential Hepatitis A virus exposure, NCDOH is advising anyone who ate food as a dine-in, takeout, delivery or utilized the restroom at Taco Bell in Niagara Falls (7300 Niagara Falls Boulevard, Niagara Falls, NY 14304) between November 21, 2019 and December 1, 2019 to receive free Hepatitis A vaccine from the Niagara County Department of Health to prevent potentially exposed individuals from becoming infected. The Point of Dispensing (POD) will be held at:

Where: Doris W. Jones Family Resource Building, 3001 Ninth Street, Niagara Falls, NY 14305

When: Thursday December 5th & Friday December 6th from 9AM to 4PM

“We encourage those who may have been exposed in this specific timeframe to visit the Point of Dispensing to receive free post exposure prophylaxis,” stated Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton. Those attending the Point of Dispensing are encouraged to pre-register to save time during the onsite registration process. Pre-registration may be completed prior to arrival by visiting, http://www.niagaracounty.com/Health and look for the pre-registration link at the top.

Those who ate food as a dine-in, takeout, delivery or utilized the restroom at Taco Bell in Niagara Falls between November 13, 2019 and November 20, 2019 may have been exposed but will not benefit from Hepatitis A vaccine to prevent infection from this exposure and are encouraged to monitor themselves and their families for symptoms for 50 days after consuming the food. Those who develop symptoms suggestive of Hepatitis A virus should seek medical evaluation.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A virus can include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

The disease is rarely fatal and most people recover in a few weeks without any complications. Adults have signs and symptoms of illness more often than children. Infants and young children tend to have very mild symptoms and are less likely to develop jaundice than are older children and adults. Not everyone who is infected will have all of the symptoms.

For more information about Hepatitis A, visit: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/hepatitis/hepatitis_a/food_service_workers_fact_sheet.htm

If you have questions regarding the Hepatitis A potential exposure and/or scheduled Point of Dispensing, please contact the Niagara County Department of Health Nursing Division at 716-278-1900.

Facts about Hepatitis A:

  • Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It can range from no symptoms at all, to a mild illness lasting a few weeks, to a severe illness lasting several months. Although rare, Hepatitis A can cause death in some people.
  • Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. This can happen from eating at a restaurant, sharing food or drink, or eating when traveling in one of the many countries outside the United States with a high Hepatitis A infection rate.
  • Those with a past infection from Hepatitis A cannot be re-infected. He or she is immune for life and does not continue to carry the virus.
  • People who are most at risk of Hepatitis A include:
    • People with direct contact with someone who has a Hepatitis A infection. This can occur up to 2 weeks before the infected person develops symptoms, so you may not be aware of your exposure at the time.
    • Travelers to countries where Hepatitis A is common, which include most countries outside the United States. More information is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web site: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/hepatitis-a
    • Men who have sexual contact with men,
    • People who use drugs, both injection and non-injection drugs, and
    • Homeless individuals
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