An employee at a North Carolina donut store has contracted a hepatitis A infection, prompting health officials to recommend vaccination for those who may have purchased food handled by the worker.

The infected individual works at the Dixie Donuts of Wilkesboro, located at 2830 West NC Highway 268. Consumers who visited the establishment on May 8 or 9 between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. or on May 10 or 12 between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. are at risk of exposure and are encouraged to get a hepatitis A vaccination from their healthcare provider.

Those potentially exposed to the virus could begin experiencing symptoms as early as May 22 and as late as June 23, according to the Wilkes County Health Department.

Hepatitis A infection is characterized by fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea and abdominal discomfort. A few days after these symptoms appear, 70 percent of those infected develop jaundice, a yellowing of the skin, eyes and mucus membranes. Children ages 6 and under are likely to carry the virus without developing sypmtoms. Only 30 percent of people in this age group become ill from infection.

Most hepatitis A infections resolve themselves within 2 weeks, but sometimes illnesses can be more severe.

By the time an infected individual exhibits symptoms, they are usually not contagious anymore. The virus is shed through a person’s feces, usually in the 2 weeks preceding illness.

In order to prevent the spread of infection, people are encouraged to wash hands thoroughly, and to receive a hepatitis A vaccine if they  think they have been exposed to the virus. This step will also prevent symptoms from developing.

For more information, visit the Wilkes County Health Department’s website.