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Hepatitis A Alert for Restaurant Diners in Indiana

People who ate at the Lone Star Restaurant in Evansville, IN from April 27 to May 3, 2012 may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus, according to a news release Thursday from the Vanderburgh County Health Department.

County officials said they are working with the Indiana State Department of Health in investigating a case of hepatitis A in a food worker at the restaurant, which is located in the Eastland Plaza Shopping Center in Evansville.

 “We’ve been in contact with Lone Star and we wanted to let people know that they may have been exposed,” Dr. Ray Nicholson, Health Officer for the Health Department, wrote in the prepared statement.

Persons who were exposed and unvaccinated can receive a dose of hepatitis A vaccine to help lessen the effects of the disease or prevent disease if given within 14 days of exposure. Public health officials said they are working to secure vaccine to offer to anyone who ate at the restaurant from April 27 to May 3, 2012 and will release information on immunization clinics when they receive the vaccine.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. The incubation period (time of exposure to development of symptoms) is usually 2 to 7 weeks. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, pale colored stools, and dark urine. Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes, may occur a few days after symptoms appear. Symptoms usually last one to two weeks but can last longer.

Symptoms are more likely to occur in adults than in children. Severe complications are rare and occur more often in persons who have liver disease or a weakened immune system. Anyone with symptoms of Hepatitis A is encouraged to seek medical attention promptly.

Hepatitis A is spread person-to-person by the fecal-oral route and occurs when a person eats food or drinks a beverage contaminated by someone with the virus. Thorough hand washing after using the restroom, after changing diapers, and before touching or preparing food or drinks is the best way to control the spread of hepatitis A.

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