BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL)- Officials with the Mount Rogers Health District have reported that an employee at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen on Airport Rd. in Bristol, Virginia, has been diagnosed with hepatitis A.
Authorities said in a release Wednesday, “persons who ate there on November 16 or 17, 2019 may have been exposed to hepatitis A.”
Dr. Karen Shelton is the Director for Mount Rogers Health District. She says Hepatitis A is a food born illness that can linger on surfaces.
“Thankfully this restaurant does have excellent practices when it comes to all of its food preparation and its restaurant management as well as its protocols but unfortunately in these types of situations there is still a small risk of exposure,” said Shelton.
An employee at the restaurant was diagnosed with hepatitis A and because of the nature of the employee’s job- this became a public health concern.
“It is contracted if you have been in close contact with or eaten after someone who has had hepatitis A,” said Shelton.
Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen’s local management was unable to comment but its corporate communications manager said they are cooperating with local health officials.
“The health and safety of our guests and team members is our top priority. We’ve been working closely with the Washington County Health Department, and they have assured us that we have the right processes in place to protect our team members and our guests.”Brittany Baron
Manager, Communications – Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen
Hepatitis A is a preventable disease with a vaccine but oftentimes people will be contagious for two weeks before symptoms show.
“The symptoms of hepatitis A are most typically jaundice or the yellowing of the skin or eyes but it is also accompanied by nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, dark-colored urine, clay-colored stool- sometimes also abdominal pain as well as joint pain,” said Shelton.
Shelton says the nation is experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak and its showing in our region.
“Specifically in Bristol, Washington County, and Smyth County, we, unfortunately, have the highest rates of hepatitis A cases in the state at this time,” said Shelton.
The Hepatitis A vaccine is available at the Washington County Health Department, 15068 Lee Highway in Bristol, Virginia on Thursday, December 5 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday, December 6 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.
For more information, you can visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/epidemiology-fact-sheets/hepatitis-a/ or call 276-676-5604 or 276-645-0947.