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Kroger customers in Kentucky exposed to hepatitis A virus

A Kroger employee who worked in the produce aisle of a Kentucky grocery store in February exposed an unknown number of people to the highly contagious hepatitis A virus.

Produce purchased at the Kroger store at 4915 Dixie Highway in Louisville should be thrown away, according to a statement from The Kroger Co. The Kroger employee did not continue working after the hepatitis A diagnosis.

Local public health officials were notified immediately and staff at the implicated store began disposing of potentially contaminated products and cleaning. The store operators are cooperating with state and local officials to identify any employees and customers who are at risk for for infection.

It can take up to 50 days after exposure for hepatitis A symptoms to develop, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consequently, anyone who handled, purchased or ate any produce from the Kroger store while the infected employee was working should monitor themselves for symptoms in the coming weeks.

Also, anyone who may have been exposed and already developed symptoms should immediately seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the hepatitis A virus.

There is a two-week window of opportunity to receive a post-exposure vaccination. The post-exposure injections are not effective if given more than two weeks after the fact.

News of the infected Kroger employee comes in the wake of an announcement earlier this week by Kentucky officials who said statewide hepatitis A outbreak that began in 2017 is continuing. The outbreak strain is the same one that has infected more than 1,200 people in several states, having killed more than 40.

Symptoms of hepatitis A can include fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea and the yellowing of the eyes or skin. Some people who are infected do not develop symptoms.

The virus can spread through close personal contact, contaminated surfaces, and contaminated foods or beverages. The virus is not killed by cold and can survive freezing temperatures for years.

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