RCAHD is currently investigating nine cases of hepatitis A associated with this exposure.
An employee who worked at three Famous Anthony’s restaurants in Roanoke was diagnosed with hepatitis A. As a result, the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts (RCAHD) announced today that anyone who has visited one of these three places of Famous Anthony’s – 4913 Grandin Road, 6499 Williamson Road or 2221 Crystal Spring Ave. – from August 10 to 26 only, may have been exposed.
To protect your health and prevent the spread of disease, if you meet these criteria and are not vaccinated against hepatitis A, please monitor yourself for these symptoms:
• jaundice: yellowing of the skin or eyes,
• loss of appetite,
• abdominal pain,
• dark urine, or
• clear stools.
If you develop any of these symptoms, please see a doctor and tell your healthcare professional about your possible exposure. It is also very important that people with symptoms stay at home, especially if they work in restaurants, healthcare or childcare.
It is irresponsible for restaurants not to offer hepatitis A vaccines to employees. Or, ignore the problem, disgust your customers, and rest assured that you will be sued.
A fact from the CDC: “Since hepatitis A outbreaks were first identified in 2016, more than 39,000 cases, 24,000 hospitalizations and 374 deaths from infection with the hepatitis A virus ( HAV) have been reported.
Sure, some of these have been homeless or drug addicts, but how many of them work in restaurants? Where exhibited in restaurants? Note: 30% to 40% of those affected are NOT homeless or drug addicts.
Hardly a day goes by without a health department somewhere notifying that an infected food handler is the cause of another potential hepatitis A outbreak.
Without vaccinations for food handlers, combined with an effective and rigorous handwashing policy, there will always be more outbreaks of hepatitis A. It is time for health services across the country to demand vaccination of catering workers, especially those serving the very young and the elderly.
Hepatitis A is a communicable disease that is passed from person to person. It is spread almost exclusively through faecal-oral contact, usually person-to-person, or through contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is the only foodborne illness that is preventable by vaccination. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since the vaccine’s inception, infection rates have declined 92%.
The CDC estimates that 83,000 cases of hepatitis A occur in the United States each year, and that many of these cases are linked to foodborne transmission. In 1999, more than 10,000 people were hospitalized with hepatitis A infections and 83 people died. In 2003, 650 people became ill, four died, and nearly 10,000 people received IG (immunoglobulin) injections after eating at a restaurant in Pennsylvania. Not only do customers get sick, but also businesses lose customers, or some simply go bankrupt.
While the CDC has yet to call for mandatory vaccination of restaurant workers, it has repeatedly pointed out that the consumption of contaminated food by workers is a major cause of foodborne illness in the United States. .
Hepatitis A continues to be one of the most frequently reported vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States, despite the approval of the hepatitis A vaccine by the FDA in 1995. Widespread vaccination of appropriate susceptible populations would significantly reduce the incidence of the disease and potentially eliminate the indigenous transmission of hepatitis A infections. The vaccines cost about $ 50. The main economic reason why these preventative injections were not used is the high turnover of restaurant workers. Eating out becomes much less of a gamble if all restaurant workers were faced with the same requirement.
According to the CDC, the costs associated with hepatitis A are substantial. Between 11% and 22% of people with hepatitis A are hospitalized. Adults who fall ill lose an average of 27 working days. Health services incur substantial costs to provide post-exposure prophylaxis for an average of 11 contacts per case. The average costs (direct and indirect) of hepatitis A range from $ 1,817 to $ 2,459 per case for adults and from $ 433 to $ 1,492 per case for children under 18 years of age. In 1989, the estimated direct and indirect annual costs of hepatitis A in the United States were higher. $ 200 million, or over $ 300 million in 1997 dollars. A new CDC report shows that in 2010, just over 10% of people aged 19 to 49 were vaccinated against hepatitis A .
Vaccinating an employee makes sense. It is moral to protect clients from illness which can cause serious illness and death. The vaccines also protect the business from the multi-million dollar fallout that can occur if people get sick or if thousands of people are forced to queue for vaccinations to avoid a bigger problem.
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