State and County health officials began their investigation into a Hepatitis A case Thursday.
A worker at the Lone Star restaurant in the Eastland Place Shopping Center was recently diagnosed with Hepatitis A. It's unclear how many people may have been exposed to the virus.
Lone Star temporarily closed its Evansville location as of Thursday night and the Vanderburgh County Health Department is now working to get doses of the vaccine for those who recently ate at the restaurant.
"Hepatitis A can be highly contagious, and if possible, we'd like to get people who may have been exposed in here, so they can get immunized against it," said Vanderburgh County Health Department Laboratory Director Chris Allen.
Vanderburgh County Health Department officials say they received word Wednesday that a food service worker from Lone Star had been hospitalized.
Customers who ate at the restaurant from April 20th through May 3rd are advised to seek medical care immediately if they become ill.
"Hepatitis A is a virus that affects the liver and it's transmitted human-to-human by the fecal-oral route, so basically, not washing their hands after using the bathroom, then touching food or food products," Allen pointed out.
Symptoms vary widely, but include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, pale colored stools, dark urine, and jaundice.
"The main tip off is if you see somebody or you become yourself jaundice, you have yellow-tint to your eyes or skin, it is definitely an indicator and if that continues greater than 24 hours, you should seek medical attention immediately," Allen said.
The typical incubation period for the virus is two to seven weeks, but some people remain asymptomatic, and they are still able to spread the virus to others.
"People who are very ill, the very old, and the young, are the most susceptible to this," Allen said.
The Vanderburgh County Health Department advises everyone who ate at the Lone Star from April 27th to May 3rd to get vaccinated.
The department has ordered an initial thousand doses of the vaccine. That should arrive Friday.
The department hopes to open up vaccination clinics Friday, Saturday at the latest. The clinics are planned to run through Thursday.
It's unclear how the food service worker contracted the virus or what his condition is at this time.
The health department's investigation is looking into how many meals were served during the days the employee worked at the restaurant. This will help determine the potential exposure to the public.
All Lone Star employees must now be vaccinated or they can't return to work for 50 days. Employees have also been given food safety precautions. Health experts say the virus is not airborne and does not stay alive on surfaces for a long duration of time. Vanderburgh County Health Department officials say the restaurant has been inspected and is safe to be open, but Lone Star voluntarily closed it Thursday night.
In a statement, Lone Star representatives write, "We are cooperating fully with the County and State Health Departments and will continue to respond and address any questions or concerns."
Lone Star is working with the health department to determine when the restaurant will reopen.
As soon as vaccination clinics are scheduled, we'll let you know.
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