The restaurant has been cooperative with the health department’s investigation and has taken proactive measures including scheduling immunizations for susceptible employees and thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing the restaurant, according to the health department.
Hepatitis A spreads when a person ingests the virus through close personal contact with an infected person or through eating food or drink handled by someone carrying the virus. Hepatitis A can be spread when restaurant workers who have the virus don’t wash their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom.
Symptoms usually begin two to seven weeks after exposure and generally last less than 2 months but can last as long as 6 months. Most people with hepatitis A do not have long-lasting illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But it can cause serious illness, including inflammation of the liver, and some people with severe symptoms require hospitalization.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. In most cases, the liver heals within six months with no lasting damage, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The health department recommends those potentially exposed get a vaccination within 14 days of exposure if they have not previously been vaccinated for or had hepatitis A. Those who have already been vaccinated or have been sick with hepatitis A in the past are considered immune and don’t need a vaccine at this time, according to the health department.
In 2021, a total of 5,728 cases of hepatitis A were reported in the United States, but due to underreporting, the actual number of cases is likely around 11,500, according to the CDC.
Those with questions are recommended to reach out to their health care provider or can call the Gwinnett County Health Department at 770-339-4260 (press 0 and ask to speak with the epidemiologist on call). An epidemiologist can also be reached after hours at 404-323-1910 or 866-PUB-HLTH.