December 12, 2018

Possible Hepatitis A Virus Exposure at Two Restaurants in Spanish Fork, Utah

Consumers who visited two restaurants in Spanish Fork, Utah last month may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus, according to the Utah Department of Health. The restaurants in question are Olive Garden, at 1092 North Canyon Parkway, and Sonic Drive-In at 971 North Main Street, also in Spanish Fork. Employees who have been diagnosed with hepatitis A worked at those locations.

Hepatitis A virus

If you visited that Olive Garden restaurant between Thursday, December 21, 2017 through Saturday, December 30, 2017, or that Sonic between Saturday, December 23, 2017 through Sunday, December 24, 2017, you may have been exposed to the pathogenic virus.

If you were at those locations before December 28, 2017, it’s too late for a vaccination. All you can do is monitor yourself for the symptoms of hepatitis A and see your doctor if they do develop.

If you were there on December 28, 2017 or later, you can get an immune globulin or hepatitis A vaccine. You can enter your contact information at the Utah Department of health site and someone will contact you within two days. You can also visit your healthcare provider or call your doctor to ask about a shot. Many pharmacies also provide these vaccinations. Be aware that the vaccination is only effective if given within two weeks of exposure, so you may not be able to wait for the health department to contact you.

Unfortunately, people who are infected with the hepatitis A virus are infectious up to two weeks before symptoms begin, so they can unknowingly pass the illness on to others. Utah County and other areas of the state have been experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak since August 2017.

Both of the restaurants are cooperating with the health department’s investigation. They are cleaning their facilities and following health department recommendations.

Ralph Clegg, UCHD Executive Director said in a statement, “The potential exposures of Hepatitis A in food service establishments serves as a reminder to food service establishment owners and operators that food handler employees need to be encouraged and required to not work when ill.┬áConscientious personal hygiene and hand washing procedures need to be followed by employees and enforced by managers. Food service establishments should consider vaccinating their food-handling employees against Hepatitis A. All of these efforts are important for the protection of public health.”

The symptoms of hepatitis A include abdominal pain, yellowing or the eyes or skin, dark urine, clay colored stools, fatigue, and nausea and vomiting. Most people get sick within 15 to 50 days after exposure, although not everyone who has the virus shows any symptoms. Because of that, officials are recommending that everyone who can get this vaccination.

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