Submitted by the Roanoke County and Alleghany Health Districts
The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts (RCHAD) has identified that an employee of a local food establishment has been infected with hepatitis A. The local health department dispatched the environmental health team to Billy’s Restaurant, 102 Market St. SE in Roanoke to conduct a comprehensive on-site inspection and to interview key personnel. The investigation determined that although the employee worked during the infectious period for hepatitis A (June 20 – July 6, 2022), the employee did not handle food. The restaurant’s management team is fully cooperating with the investigation.
As a result of the investigation and because the individual did not handle food, this situation does not meet the criteria to recommend post-exposure hepatitis A vaccine for patrons of the restaurant.
“While we are disappointed to announce another case connected to a current hepatitis A outbreak in our area, we believe this situation is low risk for the public. Still, the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all, since the current outbreak. Individuals who are uninsured or underinsured are encouraged to reach out to RCAHD local health departments for vaccine opportunities,” said RCAHD Health Director Dr. Cynthia Morrow.
Out of an abundance of caution and given the high level of sensitivity to the current hepatitis A outbreak in our community, the Roanoke City Health Department is offering free doses of hepatitis A vaccine to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last at a mobile clinic located across the street from the Roanoke Health Department (1513 Williamson Rd. NE, 24012): Tuesday, July 19, 11-2 p.m.
In addition to other local health department offices, many pharmacies and primary care providers also offer hepatitis A vaccine.
Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. Anyone who is not currently vaccinated against hepatitis A is encouraged to get the vaccine, which is available from many healthcare providers, health clinics and local pharmacies and is part of routine childhood vaccination series.
Exposure to hepatitis A virus may occur through direct contact with an infected person or by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated. Symptoms may develop 15 to 50 days following exposure. People are at increased risk if they have been in close and continuous contact with an infected person, particularly in a household or day care setting.
Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. Routine vaccination reduces the risk of this disease and is available to anyone. Virginia has experienced widespread outbreaks of hepatitis A across the Commonwealth, and vaccination is recommended for everyone.
For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/epidemiology-fact-sheets/hepatitis-a/.