August 7, 2020

Applebee’s Hepatitis A Exposure in Mount Vernon, Illinois

An Applebee’s Hepatitis A exposure at the restaurant in Mount Illinois may have exposed customers to the virus, according to a Facebook post by the Jefferson County Health Department. The employee worked while infectious from July 9 through July 19, 2020.

Applebee's Hepatitis A Exposure in Mount Vernon, Illinois

Applebee’s has cleaned and sanitized the restaurant and has been working with public health officials. There is something strange about this, though. On the Facebook page someone asks if the employee worked before July 9, 2020, since they ate there on July 6, 2020. The health department doesn’t give a direct answer, but advises the person to discuss vaccination with their doctor. So we don’t know if this Applebee’s hepatitis A exposure window was longer than stated.

If you ate at the Applebee’s in Mount Vernon, Illinois during that time frame, you can still get a hepatitis A or immune globulin vaccination depending on your age and health status. If you ate there before July 9, 2020, and if that employee was working there, monitor your health for the symptoms of hepatitis A or contact your doctor.

Those symptoms include fatigue, nausea, joint pain, fever, abdominal pain, especially in the upper right quadrant, diarrhea, dark urine, clay-colored stools, and jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin and eyes.  These symptoms can take up to 50 days to appear after infection. Most people recover on their own, although some, especially those with liver disease, can die.

One of the issues with this illness is that a person who is infected is infectious for two weeks before symptoms start. They can spread the virus unknowingly.

The best way to prevent hepatitis A infections is to get vaccinated. It also helps if you wash your hands well after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and caring for someone who is sick. Also wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food and before eating. And stay home from work or school if you are sick.

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