A food service worker at the Shop’N Kart bakery in Chehalis, Washington has been diagnosed with hepatitis A, according to the Lewis County Public Health & Social Services. That illness was reported to the Health Department on October 6, 2016.
That worker was at the bakery between September 8 and October 6, 2016. Anyone who ate decorated cakes or cupcakes purchased from that bakery between those dates may have been exposed to hepatitis A. People who ate there between September 8 and September 25 may have been exposed to the virus, but it’s now too late for those people to get a vaccination against the disease. All those people can do is monitor themselves for the symptoms of hepatitis A and go to a doctor if they develop.
Hepatitis A or immune globulin vaccinations are only effective if given within two weeks of exposure. Anyone who ate cakes or cupcakes at that bakery on September 26, 2016 or later can still get vaccinated. Check with your doctor to see if you are eligible for this shot.
Shop ‘N Kart contacted public health officials as soon as they were notified of this illness. No cases of hepatitis A associated with this bakery have been reported. But the illness takes 15 to 50 days to appear, and some people who are infected never experience any symptoms. Symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, clay colored stools, dark urine, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Hepatitis A attacks the liver and is spread through the fecal-oral route. To prevent the spread of this disease, it’s crucial that everyone wash their hands very well after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or taking care of someone who is sick, especially with a diarrheal illness. Unfortunately, since people are contagious for two weeks before they even know they are sick, the virus can spread easily person-to-person or through contaminated food or drink.
If you are sick, stay home from work or school, especially if you work in the health care or food service industries. If you do contract hepatitis A, see your doctor and follow her advice about when you can return to work.