Springfield fast food employee tests positive for hepatitis A

Clark County Combined Health District say hepatitis case is confirmed at Springfield restaurant. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

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Clark County Combined Health District say hepatitis case is confirmed at Springfield restaurant. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

A case of hepatitis A has been identified in a Rally’s restaurant employee working at 2122 S. Limestone St. in Springfield, according to the Clark County Combined Health District.

However, due to safe food handling procedures, the risk of transmission to patrons at Rally’s is low, a statement from the health district said.

“The health of our employees and our guests is our top priority,” said Kim Francis, a spokesperson for Rally’s.

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The health district is now working with the restaurant’s management to vaccinate the restaurant’s employees, according to a statement from the health district.

“We have fully cooperated with Health Department authorities and appreciate their ongoing work in addressing this nationwide issue,” Francis said.

The Ohio Department of Health declared a statewide outbreak of hepatitis A in June of 2018. As of July 5, the health district has investigated 75 cases of hepatitis A, all linked to the statewide outbreak.

“This case of hepatitis A highlights the fact that 91% of counties in Ohio are continuing to investigate the statewide community outbreak,” said Anna Jean Petroff, Epidemiologist for the Clark County Combined Health District. “Proper hand washing and vaccination are the most effective strategies to combat this virus.”

In early June, Clark County health officials said they were seeing about two new cases of hepatitis A every week.

Hepatitis A affects the liver and can be spread by ingesting fecal matter from an infected individual. Symptoms of hepatitis A include; fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, clay-colored stool and jaundice.

Those at the greatest risk of contracting hepatitis A are; people who use street drugs (whether injected or not), people who are incarcerated, people experiencing homelessness, men who have sex with men, people with direct contact with individuals infected with the virus and people who have traveled to other areas of the U.S. currently experiencing outbreaks.

While those mentioned are at a greater risk, the CDC recommends anyone over 12 months receive the hepatitis A vaccine. Anyone interested in a vaccination should contact their health care provider, local pharmacy or local health district.

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