Yesterday, we reported that an employee at a Boise, Idaho Cheesecake Factory restaurant had tested positive for hepatitis A, and had worked while infectious, presenting a risk of infection to restaurant customers.  The Boise employee wasn’t involved in food preparation, however, and the risk of infection to customers is thought to have been low.

But customers at the Gonzales Restaurant in Dallas County, Texas may not be so lucky.  The Dallas County Health Department is trying to contact people who ate at this Tex-Mex stop between January 25-28.  The restaurant is located at 8121 Bruton Road.

In the Boise situation, the potential exposure occurred in December through mid-January, and as a result, the chances of being able to effectively vaccinate patrons are low, since the shot must be administered within 14 days of infection to potentially prevent illness.  In the Gonzales Restaurant situation, however, people may still be able to prevent severe illness if they are vaccinated quickly.

What is it with Texas and hepatitis A anyways?  In September, a Cheddar’s restaurant went through the exact same thing in Lubbock.  In that case, more than 1,000 people received vaccination shots to prevent illness.

A recent CDC survey indicated that we are all not doing a real good job keeping up on our vaccinations.  Yes, infecton by hepatitis A can be eliminated from an individual’s list of health concerns.  In certain states, particularly those in the south, midwest and eastern U.S., the rates of vaccination are lower, especially for kids.  About two kids out of 10 receive the full immunization.

“One reason for lower rates of hepatitis A vaccination in some states is because of the recommendation history,” said Dr. Christina Dorell, the lead author of the study in the journal Pediatrics and a researcher at the CDC.

In 1999, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the vaccine for children in 11 states in the western United States where infection rates were the highest. In six other states, the Committee said that the vaccine could be “considered” for children.

Hepatitis A infection causes inflammation in the liver, and can lead to fatigue, poor appetite, nausea and jaundice. The CDC estimates that about 21,000 new cases occur each year.