Health officials say an employee at a Kingsport restaurant has been diagnosed with hepatitis and some customers need to take action.
According to the Sullivan County Department of Health, an employee at McAlister’s Deli located at 2003 N. Eastman Road has been diagnosed with acute hepatitis A.
The health department says customers who ate at the restaurant from March 11-27 should contact the department for more information.
“If we give the vaccine within two weeks of exposure, then we can prevent the disease,” Dr. May said.
The department says McAlister’s has taken preventative measures, including closing the store for cleaning and requiring vaccination of employees.
The health department will offer free hepatitis A vaccines at:
- Sullivan County Regional Health Department (Main Campus),
154 Blountville Bypass, Blountville, TN 37617
- Sullivan County Regional Health Department (Kingsport Office),
1041 East Sullivan Street, Kingsport, TN 37660
Symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, decreased appetite, stomach pain, nausea, darkened urine, pale stools, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). People can become ill 15 to 50 days after being exposed to the virus. Anyone experiencing symptoms should seek medical attention.
The best ways to prevent hepatitis A infection are to get vaccinated and to practice good handwashing to remove germs.
For more information, visit sullivanhealth.org, or call 423-279-2777.
News Channel 11’s Chantel Batista is following this story and just spoke to Dr. Stephen May at the Sullivan County Regional Health Department.
Chantel asked Dr. May just how many people this could impact. Dr. May said he was told by the restaurant they have approximately 500 customers a day. According to the health department that means thousands could be impacted.
“We’ve done the math; We know there is a potential to up to 5,000,” Dr. May said. “I dont anticipate we will get that full number. But we are preparing whatever the need is we will meet it.
Tuesday evening the owner of the Kingsport McAlister’s Deli, Chris Smith, released the following statement:
“We voluntarily closed our McAlister’s today after learning an employee was diagnosed with Hepatitis A. We are fully cooperating with the health department to ensure a clean and safe environment for our restaurant and guests. We have discarded all prepped and open food, conducted a thorough cleaning and sanitization process, and will have vaccinated all employees by the time we open tomorrow.”
In January, Hepatitis A also made headlines in our region when a spokesperson for Ballad Health revealed three staff members at Indian Path Community Hospital were infected with Hepatitis A.
In that case, Ballad Health officials said out of an abundance of caution, all team members at the hospital would receive vaccinations.
Ballad Health said in a statement back in January:
“According to the Tennessee Department of Health, Tennessee has seen an increase of acute Hepatitis A cases since December 2017 as a result of an ongoing national outbreak. Hepatitis A is a viral infection that affects the liver. It can be spread in much the same way as other gastrointestinal viruses – through food and drink or by close personal contact with someone who is infected with the virus. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, joint pain and jaundice, and the illness may last anywhere from a few weeks to several months.”
News Channel 11 will continue to follow this story out of Kingsport and bring you the latest on News Channel 11 at 11.