The Southeastern Idaho Public Health Department has confirmed that an employee of Tom’s Gyro at 150 N. 3rd Avenue in Pocatello, Idaho has hepatitis A. That means the restaurant customers may have been exposed to the virus.
Public health officials say the risk to the general public is low, but the employee could have inadvertently contaminated food and drinks at the restaurant. The employee did practice good hygiene. Anyone who visited the restaurant between August 2, 2012 and August 14, 2012 and is not immune to hepatitis A should receive a hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin (IG) vaccine immediately. In addition, anyone who consumed food or drink at the restaurant from July 15 to August 2, 2012 should contact their health care provider if they are showing signs of the disease. For anyone in that group, it’s too late for a vaccine to protect you against the disease.
Southeastern Idaho Public Health will have hepatitis A and immune globulin vaccines available for people affected by this exposure. Call the hotline at 208-234-5888 to be screened and make an appointment. If you have had the illness in the past or have received the vaccine previously, you are protected from infection.
If you are under the age of 40 and are not pregnant, immune-compromised, or have chronic liver diseases, you should receive the hepatitis A vaccine. If you are over 40 years of age, pregnant, immune-compromised, or have chronic liver disease, you should receive the immune globulin vaccine. Infants under 12 months should also receive the immune globulin vaccine.
Symptoms of hepatitis A have rapid onset. They include: fever, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), tiredness, nausea, and dark urine. The disease is usually caused by eating or drinking items that are contaminated with hepatitis A from someone who hasn’t practiced good hygiene.