Pulaski County: A Case of Hepatitis A has been Diagnosed in an Employee at Local Restaurant

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December 3, 2018

A case of hepatitis A has been diagnosed in an employee who handled food at Zaxby’s Restaurant located at 2039 S. Hwy. 27 Somerset, KY 42501. Zaxby’s has set up a hotline for concerned customers: 866-8-ZAXBYS (866-892-9297).

While it is rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A virus due to an infected food handler, anyone who consumed food or drink at Zaxby’s Restaurant November 9, 2018 through November 30, 2018 may consider Hepatitis A vaccination. Zaxby’s Restaurant is fully cooperating with the Health Department and is working with the Health Department to get all employees vaccinated. There is minimal risk of contracting hepatitis A from this establishment or any other food establishment at this time, and no case of hepatitis A in the current Kentucky outbreak has been associated with food service establishments.

Vaccine is available through your local pharmacy, the Health Department and your health care provider.

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.

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 can become ill up to 7 weeks after being exposed to the virus.
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.

CDC recommends hepatitis A vaccination for the following groups:

• All children at age 1 year
• Travelers to countries that have high rates of hepatitis A
• Family members and caregivers of recent adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
• Men who have sexual contact with other men
• People who use injection and non-injection illegal drugs
• People with chronic (lifelong) liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C
• People who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates
• People who work with hepatitis A infected animals or in a hepatitis A research laboratory

For more information about the outbreak within the Lake Cumberland District, visit HepA in Lake Cumberland.

For additional information on the larger outbreak occurring in Kentucky, please visit Kentucky Department for Public Health.

For more information please contact your local health department.

Zaxby’s has released the following statement:

As you may know, there is an ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak occurring across the Lake Cumberland region and the state of Kentucky. This past weekend, one of our team members was diagnosed with Hepatitis A.

Zaxby’s is committed to the health and safety of our team members and guests, and are working closely with the Lake Cumberland Health District and the state health department. We have excellent safety measures in place, and increased them when the health department announced the state Hepatitis A outbreak earlier this year.

All employees at the Somerset location were previously vaccinated or will be vaccinated in order to continue to work. The restaurant, which received a 97 on its most recent health inspection, was fully sanitized this weekend as a precaution.

This team member was exposed in the community where Hep A is now widely prevalent. This team member and all food handlers routinely wear gloves, making the risk of transmission extremely low. As a precautionary measure, we are also using a cleaner throughout the restaurant that kills the virus.

We will continue to follow any and all recommendations from the Lake Cumberland Health District and the state of Kentucky Department of Health regarding guest vaccination until this situation is resolved. We encourage guests to contact us at 866-8-ZAXBYS (866-892-9297) with questions or concerns.

14 thoughts on “Pulaski County: A Case of Hepatitis A has been Diagnosed in an Employee at Local Restaurant

    1. From our Medical Director, Dr. Christine Weyman: All employees of Zaxby's wear gloves when preparing and serving food hence the risks are low for exposure even when the employee worked.The employee has not worked since Nov 30th, and the restaurant has been sanitized, so exposure after that date is very, very unlikely.

  1. I just contacted Zaxby’s concerning the date that they cleaned there restaurant. My husband ate there Saturday night. We were informed that the cleaning did not start until Sunday afternoon. I was told that they did not find out that the employee was confirmed hepatitis A until Saturday. They told us that they did not start cleaning or preparing to clean until Sunday. Our concern is set the dates in question from November not until November 30 needs to be extended to December 1. Also my concern is why did the restaurant not close immediately until cleaning and disinfecting was done? So I am assuming now that my husband is now at risk also. Could you please return my call xxx-xxx-xxxx. Thank you

    1. Keep in mind that risk of exposure at a restaurant, even with an infected worker working, is very low. Cleaning with bleach is a routine.

  2. The press release above discusses the risk of exposure from restaurants, which is very small; we have a major outbreak in Kentucky and many restaurants have had employees who have had Hepatitis A and there have not been any patron cases in any of these circumstances. Hepatitis A vaccination can prevent the disease; we encourage all citizens to be immunized.

    1. Not due to eating at Zaxby's on 11/7. However, we would recommend to anyone to get the HepA Vaccine.

  3. My kids and I ate there a couple times in November. They have had all their vaccines. Do they need another Hep A shot?

  4. My family ate there on Sunday, November 18, 2018. My grandsons have the vaccine. Do my husband and I need to be checked or have the vaccine? Thanks

    1. From our Medical Director: You do not have to be checked if you do not have symptoms. Getting the vaccine is a good idea.

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