Three Rivers District Health Department (TRDHD) service area comprised of Carroll, Gallatin, Owen and Pendleton counties strongly encourages hepatitis A vaccination for all our residents.

TRDHD has been implementing efforts to control the spread of the virus over the past several months and will continue to expand its efforts with vaccinating the at risk populations and advising health care providers, detention centers, food service establishments, and agencies that serve the homeless and people with substance use disorders. Of particular concern is a case of hepatitis A that has been diagnosed in an employee who handled food at the Owenton McDonald’s (506 South Main Street). An investigation found that this employee worked during a period of time when he/she was ill or infectious, which included the dates of August 16 through August 27, 2018.

While it is relatively uncommon for restaurant patrons to become infected with the hepatitis A virus due to an infected food handler, anyone who consumed food or drink at the Owenton McDonald’s during the stated time period is advised to get a hepatitis A vaccination. This is recommended whether the patrons live in Owen County or elsewhere. Vaccination is effective in protecting an individual from becoming infected if received within two weeks of exposure to the virus. If it has been longer than two weeks, vaccination is still recommended for future protection.

In addition, anyone who consumed food or drink at the Owenton McDonald’s during the dates listed should monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection for 50 days from their visit; wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food. If symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop, they should contact their healthcare provider immediately and stay at home until given further instructions by their doctor.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown-colored urine, light-colored stools and diarrhea. Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice) may also appear. People may have some or none of these symptoms. It could take almost seven weeks after being exposed to the virus for someone to become ill. Someone sick with hepatitis A is most likely to spread the virus during the 2 weeks before feeling sick and for 1 week after yellow eyes and skin starts. Children often do not exhibit symptoms. Although rare, death can occur from this infection. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase the risk of infection. Consistent and careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will help prevent the spread of this disease.