The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is investigating a case of hepatitis A in a Warren County restaurant employee that may have led to exposure for customers.  MSDH has set up free hepatitis A vaccinations today and tomorrow  for those who might have been exposed to the virus

An employee of the Gumbo Pot, 3401 Halls Ferry Road #5 in Vicksburg, has been diagnosed with a hepatitis A infection. While infectious, the employee worked at the restaurant on Jan. 17, 18 and 22. Customers who ate at the restaurant on those days may have been exposed to hepatitis A.

Vaccination can prevent hepatitis A only if given within 14 days of exposure. Because those who ate at the restaurant on Jan. 17 and 18 would have been exposed more than 14 days ago, they should watch for any possible symptoms of hepatitis A and see their doctor if they become ill. Those who ate at the restaurant on January 22 should get the hepatitis A vaccination if they have not been previously vaccinated.

Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to this case can receive a hepatitis A vaccination free of charge from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 3 and Tuesday, Feb. 4 at the Warren County Health Department, 807 Monroe Street in Vicksburg.

“The risk of transmission of hepatitis A in this situation is likely very low. However, as a precaution, we recommend that anyone who ate food from this restaurant on Jan. 22 should consider getting a hepatitis A vaccination if they have not done so already. And again, those who may have been exposed on Jan. 17 and 18 should watch for any possible symptoms of hepatitis A and see their doctor if become ill,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

“The management and staff of the Gumbo Pot are fully cooperating with MSDH to prevent illnesses as a result of this exposure.”

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that causes fever, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), abdominal pain and dark-colored urine. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetectable amounts of stool (feces) from an infected person. If you think you have symptoms of hepatitis A, you should contact your healthcare provider. It can take up to 50 days for symptoms to develop.

People can prevent the spread of hepatitis A by carefully washing hands with soap and water, including under the fingernails, after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.

As a reminder, there is an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in Mississippi and close to 30 other states affecting those who use drugs, those who are in jail or were recently in jail, those with unstable housing or who are homeless, and men who have sex with men. The MSDH continues to recommend hepatitis A vaccination for those specific groups as well.

These outbreaks since 2016 have taken 306 lives among 30,525 confirmed cases of hepatitis A. Those cases have sent 18,604  or 61 percent of the confirmed cases to hospitals.

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