My bet is that they wish they would have offered hepatitis A vaccinations to employees.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, which provides public health services for Kanawha and Putnam Counties, has confirmed hepatitis A cases in food service workers at the McDonald’s at 64 Patrick St. in Charleston, Pizza Hut at 603 Third St. in Saint Albans, Paul’s Poplar Park Drive Inn at 9850 Teays Valley Road in Scott Depot, Sakura at 230 Nitro Place in Cross Lanes, and Sam’s Club at 2500 Mountaineer Boulevard in South Charleston.

One worker has been identified at each facility. This is part of an investigation involving a hepatitis A outbreak that began in February and has been linked to a national outbreak.

As a precaution, family members and coworkers are receiving hepatitis A immunizations, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols.

When an individual working at a food service establishment is diagnosed, KCHD sanitarians do an onsite inspection to review food-handling practices. This includes talking with employees and observing food-handling procedures.

Stanley Mills, director of environmental health services, identified no unsafe food handling practices at any of the facilities warranting the health department issue warnings to patrons suggesting immunizations because of possible exposures.

Public transmission by a food service worker is uncommon if employees follow proper handwashing requirements and wear gloves. No hepatitis A has been transmitted to restaurant patrons in Kanawha and Putnam Counties.

Food service workers are not at increased risk for hepatitis A because of their occupation unless they have identified risk factors or personal contact with someone with risk factors.

Transmission risk is extremely low. The health department recommends patrons who consumed food or drinks at any of the restaurants monitor for hepatitis A symptoms. These include abdominal pain, dark urine, fatigue, fever, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), light-colored stools, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. If symptoms occur, seek medical attention.

The infectious periods are McDonald’s, May 27 – June 17; Pizza Hut, May 28 – June 18; Paul’s Polar Park Drive Inn, May 21 – June 19; Sakura, June 07-28; and Sam’s Club, May 12-June 02.   The possibility of transmission is present only when employees were working at the facilities.

West Virginia has been identified by the CDC as part of a multistate hepatitis A outbreak. Transmission in cases in states involved with the outbreak has been by person-to person contact occurring primarily among the homeless or those using injection and non-injection drugs and their close direct contacts.

The Bureau for Public Health is providing free hepatitis A vaccine for high-risk groups in outbreak counties. Vaccinations are available to the following groups: homeless, close personal contact (including sexual) to someone who is homeless or using drugs, household contact to someone who is homeless or using drugs, exposure or contact to someone who has hepatitis A, food service workers, recently incarcerated and direct service providers to the homeless and people who use drugs. The health department screens for insurance eligibility before using the state-supplied vaccine.

Additional information can be found on the health department website or by calling the health department at 304-348-8050.

Hepatitis A:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $650 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Costco, Subway, McDonald’s, Red Robin, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.  We proudly represented the family of Donald Rockwell, who died after consuming hepatitis A tainted food and Richard Miller, who required a liver transplant after eating food at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant.

If you or a family member became ill with a Hepatitis A infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Hepatitis A attorneys for a free case evaluation.