An employee at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurant at 8069 Stonewall Shops Square in Gainesville, Virginia has been diagnosed with hepatitis A. That restaurant chain has been linked to a hepatitis A outbreak in Virginia that has sickened at least 35 people. But this news means that people who ate at that specific restaurant on certain dates should call their doctors.
Anyone who visited that restaurant between July 28, 2016 and August 18, 2016 may have been exposed to hepatitis A by the employee as well as the imported strawberries that are linked to the outbreak. People who ate or drank anything at that restaurant in Gainesville on August 15, 16, 17, or 18 may still be eligible for a vaccination against the virus.
Vaccinations are only effective if given within two weeks of exposure. After that time, those affected can only monitor themselves for the symptoms of the disease.
The Prince William Health District is offering vaccinations. Please call them at 703-792-6345 for more information. The vaccines are also available at different urgent care clinics and pharmacies in the county.
The symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice, clay-colored stools, dark urine, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, nausea, fever, and vomiting. These symptoms usually appear 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus.
Most people get better on their own, but some become so ill they must be hospitalized. The elderly and those with liver disease are most susceptible to serious complications.
The best way to prevent the spread of this illness is to wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or caring for someone who is sick. Always wash your hands well before preparing food or serving it to others.
Never go into work if you are sick, especially with the symptoms of hepatitis A because the virus is so contagious. Routine vaccination against the virus has reduced the risk of this disease. Vaccinations are recommended for all children, for people who are at high risk for complications, and for travelers to certain countries.