Case of Hepatitis A diagnosed in food handler at downtown Savannah restaurant

The Coastal Health District is warning of potential Hepatitis A exposure

Possible exposure to Hepatitis A

CHATHAM COUNTY, GA (WTOC) - The Coastal Health District says a case of Hepatitis A has been diagnosed in a food handler at Gryphon Tea Room in downtown Savannah.

An investigation found that an employee worked while ill on Jan. 2, 5, 8, 10, and 12.

Health officials say it is relatively rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with Hepatitis A due to an infected food handler, but anyone who consumed food or drink at the Gryphon Tea Room on the above dates should contact their healthcare provider to determine if a Hepatitis A immunization is needed to prevent the disease.

The Gryphon Tea Room has released the following statement:

“Immediately upon notification, we began working hand-in-hand with the DOH to ensure the well being of our employees and guests. We will continue to provide the highest standard of food service and grade-A compliance ratings.

Anyone who consumed food or drink at the location on those dates is asked to:

  • Monitor their health for symptoms of Hep A infection up to 50 days after exposure.
  • Wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
  • Stay at home and contact their healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of Hep A infection develop.

Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will prevent the spread of the disease.

Hepatitis A is a vital infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine and light colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People can become ill up to seven weeks after being exposed to the virus.

Health officials say the virus usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests it from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. It spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the bathroom or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection.

“It’s very unlikely that you transmit Hepatitis A from food service workers to patrons. It’s very unlikely, but not impossible, so with that being said, I would ask people to be mindful," said Robert Thornton, District Epidemiologist.

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