The City of Lubbock Health Department is warning patrons who ate at the Cheddar's restaurant on the South Loop in the last two weeks to see their doctor. A former employee with the restaurant has tested positive for Hepatitis A.
The employee was diagnosed with the virus Wednesday. That employee has not worked at the restaurant since Thursday, Sept. 8. However, since the virus is spread primarily through hand contact, the Health Department says anyone who dined at the restaurant between August 31st and Sept. 8 could be at risk.
"We've been in contact with Cheddar's and we wanted to let people know that they may have been exposed," Bridget Faulkenberry with the Health Department said.
The employee who was diagnosed with Hepatitis A worked in the food prep area of the kitchen. However, the Health Department says they don't expect anyone to have contracted the virus.
"Just because they ate at the restaurant doesn't meant they'll be sick," Faulkenberry said.
The City of Lubbock is working to secure a vaccine to offer to anyone who ate at the restaurant between Aug. 31 and Sept. 8. In the meantime, health officials say to remain on alert.
"One of the most important barriers to Hepatitis A is hand washing, good hand washing," Faulkenberry said.
Below is the press release sent by the City of Lubbock:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CITY OF LUBBOCK
September 14, 2011
The City of Lubbock is advising anyone who ate at Cheddar's, 4009 South Loop 289, between 8/31/11 through 9/8/11 that they may have been exposed to hepatitis A. An employee of the restaurant, who has not worked at the restaurant since September 8, has been diagnosed with the viral illness and may have passed the virus on to others. The incident has been traced to the employee and not the restaurant. The city is currently working to secure vaccine to offer to anyone who patronized the restaurant during this time. Information on immunization clinics will be released when the city receives the vaccine.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort. Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes, may occur a few days after symptoms appear. Anyone with these symptoms should contact a health care provider. The incubation period, or time between exposure and symptoms, is typically 28 days. It is possible for hepatitis A to be active but not show symptoms for up to 7 days. Symptoms usually last one to two weeks but can last longer. Young children with hepatitis A often have no symptoms.
Hepatitis A is spread person-to-person and through a fecal-oral transmission route, and typically occurs when a person eats food or drinks a beverage contaminated by someone with the virus. The virus is not spread by coughing, sneezing or by casual contact. Severe complications from hepatitis A are rare and occur more often in people who have liver disease or a weakened immune system.
Thorough hand washing after visits to the restroom, before touching food or drink and after changing a diaper are the best way to control the spread of hepatitis A.
Anyone who has a previous history of hepatitis A or has received the hepatitis A vaccine previously is not at risk.