Last week the Public Health Department of Grand County, Colorado announced that a local food worker had tested positive for Hepatitis A. The worker prepared food at two local restaurants, Max and T’s as well as Sagebrush BBQ and Grill.

“Both restaurants have had very good records of inspections in the past and both are cooperating in the investigation. There are no other confirmed cases of hepatitis A at this time,” said the Grand County Public Health Department.

The Department recommends that anyone who has not already received a Hepatitis A vaccine series and ate at Max and T’s between July 26 and July 30, or at Sagebrush BBQ and Grill between July 24 and August 3 receive a Hepatitis A vaccination within 14 days of their meal. People who ate at those restaurants between July 10 and 23 may also have been exposed to the virus, but have run out of time to receive the vaccination. These people should watch for signs of Hepatitis A and contact their physician if they develop illness. Those who consumed only dessert or drinks are not at risk.

Early signs of Hepatitis A infection appear between 2 and 6 weeks after contact. These symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, dark urine, jaundice (yellowness of eyes or skin) and pain in the upper right side of the abdomen. Illnesses can be as short as 2 weeks but are also known to last up to 6 weeks. Children often show very few symptoms and may have illnesses so mild they go unnoticed. However, children are still highly contagious. Anyone with even mild symptoms of Hepatitis A should contact their health care provider immediately.

This past weekend there were two Immunization clinics at Grand Lake Elementary school for exposed customers. If you missed one of these clinics you are encouraged to contact the Grand County Public Health Department.Patrons no longer in the Grand Lake Area should contact their public health department to acquire the vaccination.

People under the age of 40 are advised to obtain the Hepatitis A vaccination series, but individuals over 40 should receive an injection of immune globulin instead.

Hepatitis A is extremely contagious and can be spread through person-to-person contact. Historically the virus has been spread through contaminated food and beverages. It is for this reason that the Grand County Health Department is treating the situation with such vigilance. 

“Workers at both restaurants were immunized with hepatitis A vaccine on Thursday as a precaution,” said the health department.

Hepatitis A vaccines have been offered since 1995 and are required in many school districts. Since the vaccine was introduced we have had the lowest rates of infection in 40 years. It is estimated that about 25,000 new cases crop up in the United States each year.

For more information, call Grand County Public Health at 970-725-3288; or COHELP – 1-877-462-2911.