A person who handled food at a Gwinnett County Wendy's restaurant has tested positive for hepatitis A, officials said Monday.
The health department's investigation determined the employee worked at the 165 Scenic Highway location in Lawrenceville while sick and may have been able to spread hepatitis A to others between June 13 – 29, spokesman Chad Wasdin said.
"Anyone who consumed food or drink at the Wendy’s during the above dates should contact their healthcare provider or their local health department to determine if a hepatitis A immunization is needed to prevent the disease," the department said in a statement, adding that it is relatively rare to spread hepatitis A from an infected food handler to customers.
The franchise organization that operates the Lawrenceville Wendy’s restaurant, Meritage Hospitality Group, released a statement.
“We take the health and safety of our customers and team members very seriously, and we have stringent procedures in place to ensure safe, sanitary and well-maintained restaurants," the statement read. "We thank the Gwinnett County Health Department for their partnership in this matter. At this time, no additional illnesses have been reported and the restaurant is fully operational after passing an inspection.”
An outbreak of hepatitis A killed a Georgia resident earlier this year.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by a virus that is typically transmitted through person-to-person contact with someone who has the infection or through eating or drinking food or water contaminated by an infected person.
Most people who contract hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. People usually become sick within two to six weeks after being exposed, and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain or yellowing of the eyes and skin.
Anyone who consumed food and/or drink at the Lawrenceville Wendy's restaurant between June 13 and 29 is also asked to:
- Seek hepatitis A vaccination within 14 days of exposure, if previously unvaccinated. Patrons who do not receive vaccination within 14 days of their exposure can still be vaccinated; however, the vaccine may not protect them from developing illness.
- Wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
- Monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection up to 50 days after exposure.
- Stay at home and contact their healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop. If symptoms of illness develop, exposed contacts should seek hepatitis A (anti-HAV IgM) testing through their private medical provider and alert the provider of their exposure.
The Wendy’s location is actively cooperating with the health department, immunizing all susceptible employees and thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing the restaurant, Wasdin said.
Individuals with questions can call their medical provider or the Gwinnett County Health Department at 770-339-4260 (press 0 and ask to speak with the Epidemiologist on call). Additional information about hepatitis A can also be found at http://www.gnrhealth.com/hepatitis-a-prevention/ or cdc.gov/hepatitis.