Sixth food worker in eastern Kentucky county diagnosed with hepatitis A

ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) — Health officials are reporting a new case of hepatitis A at a restaurant in Boyd County, Kentucky.

An employee who handled food at RJ Kahuna’s on U.S. 60 in Ashland has been diagnosed with the disease, according to the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department.

The employee was diagnosed Tuesday.

This is the sixth food worker to be diagnosed with hepatitis A in the county during this multistate outbreak.

Officials at the health department say they have investigated and the risk of customers becoming infected is “very low.”

All of the restaurant’s employees will be required to get the hepatitis A vaccine before returning to work. RJ Kahuna’s will remain voluntarily closed to allow for the employees’ vaccinations to develop an immunity.

“RJ Kahuna’s is working with the health department to prevent any new cases from arising in the community as a result of this case,” health officials stated in a press release Wednesday.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine, light colored stools, and yellowing of the skin or eyes. Health officials say people can have some or none of these symptoms and it can take up to 50 days after exposure for someone to become ill. However, most people notice symptoms within 28 to 30 days of exposure.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health is recommending that anyone who lives in Boyd, Carter, Greenup, Hardin, Bullitt, and Jefferson counties get the vaccine.

“Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable illness,” stated Dr. Jeffrey Howard, acting DPH commissioner. “DPH recommends all children, ages 1 year through 18, receive the Hepatitis A vaccine as well as adults who want to protect themselves from an acute hepatitis A infection. In these counties with local transmission of the hepatitis A virus, we recommend everyone be vaccinated per guidelines to help stop this outbreak.”

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