Health office explains process of notifying public of hepatitis in restaurants


The Northeast Regional Health Office says it has not received any newly reported case of hepatitis A that would lead to mass vaccination. 

This comes as viewers express concerns about a Johnson City restaurant and after thousands have received vaccinations after possible exposure at a Kingsport restaurant.

See also: More than 2,500 people seek hepatitis A vaccines in Sullivan County

Dr. David Kirschke, Medical Director at the Northeast Regional Health Office, says if there is a case of hepatitis A with a restaurant employee, customers are at low risk. Employees would be at a higher risk of getting hepatitis. 

When it comes to informing the public, Kirschke says they only send out a notice if the employee exhibited symptoms while working at the restaurant.

“If we perceive a risk to the public where a mass vaccination campaign would protect the public according to the CDC guidelines — so if there was a food handler that worked while they were symptomatic — then we would do a press release,” Kirschke said.

The health office has seen an uptick in hepatitis A cases in Northeast Tennessee. There have been 26 confirmed acute cases in the region within the last six months.

The Northeast Regional Health Office covers Johnson, Carter, Washington, Unicoi, Greene, Hawkins, and Hancock counties. Sullivan County has its own health department.

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