Health officials in Snohomish County, WA are warning people who ate at two Taco Bell locations to watch for symptoms of hepatitis A infection and get vaccinated if they haven’t already.
According to an alert from the Snohomish County, “People who ate food from Taco Bell at 2727 Broadway May 22-23 or Taco Tel at 303 91st Avenue NE in Lake Stevens on May 23 should contact their health care provider or public health.”
An employee at both locations tested positive for hepatitis A. The confirmed case appears to have been infected during international travel. The Snohomish County Health Department is working with the business to identify other potentially exposed workers and connect them with prevention information and vaccination and post-exposure prevention resources.
For two weeks after exposure, the vaccine will be effective in preventing hepatitis C virus. Therefore, it is important to check the vaccination records of anyone who ate at the restaurant on the exposed days.
Eilert Department Notice Individuals who are unvaccinated, immunocompromised or unsure of their status should contact their health care provider or contact the Snohomish County Health Department at 425-339-3503 (then press 1) for guidance and prophylaxis for possible post-exposure prophylaxis.
Post-exposure prophylaxis involves receiving the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin (IG), which provides immediate and lasting protection within two weeks of exposure to the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A vaccine is available from many health care providers or pharmacies in the county. Anyone who is exposed and has difficulty finding a vaccination provider, or who is uninsured or underinsured, should contact the health department.
Exposed people should monitor themselves for any symptoms. If you have symptoms, stay home and do not prepare or serve food to others. It takes 15 to 50 days for symptoms to develop after exposure. Early symptoms of hepatitis A include:
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin)
- If you experience any of these symptoms, wash your hands thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing or handling food to avoid spreading the infection. Wash hands with soap and running water. Be sure to wash and clean all surfaces, including the backs of the hands, wrists, between the fingers, and under the nails.
About Hepatitis A
The hepatitis A virus lives in the stool or blood of an infected person and is typically transmitted through faecal contamination. The virus can be spread from person to person through close contact or food handling. Frequent, thorough washing is essential to prevent spread in food handling.
The pain varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less. More severe cases may last six weeks or more. Some individuals, especially children, do not experience jaundice and may have a very mild illness that may go unnoticed. However, even mildly ill people can be highly contagious. Anyone who has symptoms of hepatitis A and is not vaccinated or immune should see a health care provider right away, even if the symptoms are mild.