Truck stop worker may have spread hepatitis A to customers for weeks

Health officials are warning anyone who ate or drank at the popular truck stop to get vaccinated.

Hepatitis A

Health officials in Kentucky are warning truck stop patrons that they may have been exposed to hepatitis A because of an infected food worker.

On Monday, April 8, the North Kentucky Health Department (NKYH) issued a warning about the risk of a hepatitis A infection that could cause serious health problems to those who ate at a popular truck stop in the past few weeks.

According to the NKYH, people who ate at the Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen inside the T/A truck stop located at 7777 Burlington Pike, in Florence, Kentucky, should be on the lookout for hepatitis A symptoms.

Health officials say that anyone who ate or drank at the Popeyes restaurant between March 17 through April 5 is at risk of infection after a food handler was found to have worked while ill with hepatitis A for nearly three weeks.

The NKYH is recommending that those who dined at the Popeyes be vaccinated:

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 Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen during the dates listed is recommended to receive a vaccination if it is within two (2) weeks of exposure as protection from becoming ill.  If it was during the dates listed but it has been longer than two weeks since the specific time you were there, it is recommended that you still get the vaccination although it will be outside the window to protect you from contracting the illness if you were exposed at this establishment.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine, light colored stools, jaundice, and diarrhea. Symptoms may not appear for up to 7 weeks. Some people who are infected may not notice any symptoms at all.

The NKHY explains that poor hand washing after visiting the bathroom is the most common way for the virus to spread:

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 risk of infection.  Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will help prevent the spread of this disease.

The Popeyes restaurant is working with health officials to disinfect the store and to vaccinate other employees.