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Test Confirms Hepatitis A Infection in Idaho Restaurant Employee

Local health department issues health advisory to patrons

Lab tests have confirmed that an employee of Tom’s Gyro in Pocatello, Idaho has been infected with Hepatitis A, meaning that restaurant patrons may have been exposed to the virus.

“While the risk to public health is low, the possibility exists that Tom’s Gyro patrons could have been exposed to Hepatitis A,” warned the Southeastern Idaho Public Health Department, which is conducting an investigation into the incident.

SIPHD issued a public health notice Wednesday advising patrons who ate at the restaurant between August 2nd and August 14th to receive a Hepatitis A Vaccine or immune globulin (IG) immediately to prevent the onset of illness. Those who ate at the restaurant between July 15 and August 1 may also have been exposed to the virus, but a preventative measure would not prevent illness at this point.

Hepatitis A, which infects the blood and causes damage to the liver, is detected through a blood test. This case of Hepatitis A was confirmed through testing.

The employee is thought to have practiced good hand hygiene while serving customers, but may still have contaminated food or drinks at the restaurant, according to SIPHD.

“The risk of exposure is considered small, but not zero.”

SIPHD says this seems to be an isolated case, and not part of a larger outbreak.

Patrons who ate at the restaurant between August 2 and August 14 may still prevent illness if they were exposed to the virus, and should receive either the Hepatits A vaccine or Immune Globulin (IG). These are available through most healthcare providers, and will also be offered by the Southeastern Idaho Public Health Department.

The Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for people between the ages of 12 months and 40 years old who are not pregnant, immune-compromised or have chronic liver disease.

Immune globulin (IG) is recommended for those who are over 40 years old, pregnant, immune-compromised, have chronic liver disease or for infants under 12 months.

At this time, illness onset cannot be prevented among patrons exposed to the virus before August 2.

SIPHD is asking anyone who consumed food or drink at Tom’s Gyro between July 15 and August 2 to see a healthcare provider if they have experienced symptoms of Hepatitis A infection, which include fever, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, jaundice, tiredness, nausea or dark urine.

For more information, contact the Southeastern Idaho Public Health Department at 208-234-5888.

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