So far there’s only been one confirmed case — but a handful of other employees were showing symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.
Taco Bell Corporation issued the following statement:
As soon as the operator of this Warren, Ohio location learned that a team member tested positive for the hepatitis A virus, the franchisee began working immediately with Taco Bell and local health officials. All team members currently working at this restaurant have been offered vaccinations, and the restaurant was thoroughly sanitized.”
Deputy Health Commissioner of the Warren Health District Robert Pinti says he was informed Saturday about an employee testing positive for Hepatitis A.
“Our understanding is eight people were symptomatic having symptoms of Hepatitis A. They’ve received the vaccine also,” Pinti said.
The team member exposed to the virus is on leave and will not return until they are cleared by medical professionals, according to a spokesperson from Taco Bell.
“In this particular case in a restaurant setting, if that food prep handler is doing the right thing and keeping their hands clean, using their gloves, changing their gloves, washing their hands it would be very difficult to pass,” Pinti said.
Taco Bell says all employees working at this location have been offered vaccinations and the restaurant was thoroughly sanitized.
In a statement, the company wrote in part “all team members have been offered further training on illness policies and procedures. Ensuring the health and wellbeing of our team members and our customers is our highest priority which is why we are taking this matter so seriously.”
Pinti says he’s pleased with what Taco Bell has done so far. But tells customers to keep an eye out for possible symptoms like fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
“Be vigilant if you’ve eaten there and you start to experience some of these symptoms I would definitely seek medical attention,” Pinti said.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, cases of hepatitis A must be reported to the local health department by the end of the next business day after a suspected case of the illness or a positive test result.
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.
Most people who get hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage.
In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death. This is more common in people older than 50 and in people with other liver diseases.
Who is at risk for hepatitis A?
Although anyone can get hepatitis A, in the United States, the CDC says certain groups of people are at higher risk:
- People with direct contact with someone who has hepatitis A
- Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
- Men who have sexual contact with men
- People who use drugs — both injection and non-injection drugs
- Household members or caregivers of a recent adoptee from countries where hepatitis A is common
- People with clotting factor disorders, such as hemophilia
- People working with nonhuman primates
Symptoms of hepatitis A include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored stools
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)