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Another Food Service Worker in Northern Kentucky Diagnosed with Hepatitis A

Another food service worker in Northern Kentucky has been diagnosed with hepatitis A.

This time, the worker was employed at the Lee's Famous Recipe on Burlington Pike in Florence.

The news follows similar cases at the Newport Syndicate and a McDonald's in Owenton.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department reported that the Lee's employee worked while ill or infectious on August 25 and 26. Exposure to customers at the Florence Lee's has been determined to be low risk, the health department said.

An investigation found that the employee did not have bare-hand contact with food items, a site visit found no violations related to poor hygiene practices, and the Kentucky Department for Public Health and Centers for Disease Control consider transmission to patrons unlikely.

Lee's management is working with the health department and its response activities. The restaurant has implemented enhanced disinfection steps to address surfaces that may have been contaminated, and employees who worked with the affected employee have been told to be vaccinated.

Since January 2018, 67 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Northern Kentucky, and 1,495 have been reported in the state.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine, and light colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People may have some or none of these symptoms. It could take up to seven weeks after being exposed to the virus for someone to become ill. 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. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection.

Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will prevent the spread of this disease.

Since Kentucky – including the Northern Kentucky region - is experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak, the Northern Kentucky Health Department is strongly encouraging hepatitis A vaccination for the general public to protect against contracting the illness from any source of exposure. Handwashing remains the primary protection against many illnesses. Any person who believes they may have symptoms of Hep A should contact their health care provider. 

-Staff report

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