DURHAM, N.C. — A food service worker at the Big Bowl restaurant at the Streets at Southpoint Mall in Durham has been diagnosed with hepatitis A.
is a common disease caused by a virus that affects the liver. It is acquired primarily by the ingestion of the virus through contaminated food or water.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include tiredness, poor appetite, fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort. Urine may become darker in color, and then jaundice may appear in which the skin and whites of the eyes look yellow.
Many people with the virus do not develop any symptoms, especially children. Most infected persons completely recover from the disease within 1-2 weeks.
Lisa Kawaguchi and her husband ate at the restaurant and came to the Durham County Health Department to get their shots.
"I felt violated. I was quite upset. I was at work, and I watched the news about the dinner and I called my husband. I just felt very violated," she said.
Durham County Health Director Brian Letourneau said while cases of Hepatitis A are not common, they are easily spread in a restaurant environment.
"Once that person becomes ill and doesn't realize he may have hepatitis, [the person] may inoculate their hands by going to the restroom and not washing their hands appropriately, and then they can inoculate the food they touch or ice or serving utensils, etc.," he said. "That is why we see this type of circumstance come forward, that we take the action that's needed."
Anyone who consumed food or iced beverages from the Big Bowl during the following dates and times may have been exposed to hepatitis A:
If you have been exposed and develop any of the symptoms above in the 30 days following the time of your exposure, you should contact your local health department or private physician for hepatitis A IgM testing.
As a precaution, an injection containing hepatitis A immune globulin will be offered to individuals who consumed food or ice beverages at the Big Bowl restaurant during the following dates and times:
Immune globulin can prevent hepatitis A only when given within 2 weeks after exposure. It is not useful for persons who already have symptoms of hepatitis A or for those whose exposure was longer than two weeks ago. Persons who have received one dose of hepatitis A vaccine at least one month prior to exposure do not need immune globulin.
Immune globulin can be obtained at no cost from your local health department.
A parent or guardian must accompany children under 18 years of age to sign a consent form for immunization. The Health Department provided immune globulin on Friday. It will also be provided on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until noon.