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Cracker Barrel, Taco Bell and Toasted Monkey have a Hepatitis A problem

Florida: The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County announced Nov. 5 that a positive case of hepatitis A has been identified in a food service worker in St. Pete Beach.

Following lab confirmation on Nov. 1, DOH-Pinellas immediately began conducting an epidemiological investigation and determined the individual worked at Toasted Monkey, 6110 Gulf Blvd., from Oct. 17-28.

DOH says persons who frequented the restaurant on Oct. 17-28, and have not previously been vaccinated for hepatitis A, should be vaccinated. If you have previously received the hepatitis A vaccine you do not need to take additional action. DOH-Pinellas is offering the vaccine at the following locations:

• St. Petersburg, 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.

• Pinellas Park, 6350 76th Ave. N.

• Mid-County, 8751 Ulmerton Road, Largo.

• Clearwater, 310 N. Myrtle Ave.

• Tarpon Springs, 301 S. Disston Ave.

DOH-Pinellas is encouraging all healthcare providers, including hospital emergency departments to stay on high alert and immediately report cases to the Florida Department of Health.

Ohio: Taco Bell Corporation has confirmed that an employee at the Elm Road location in Warren has tested positive for hepatitis A. So far there’s only been one confirmed case — but a handful of other employees were showing symptoms.

Taco Bell Corporation issued the following statement:

As soon as the operator of this Warren, Ohio location learned that a team member tested positive for the hepatitis A virus, the franchisee began working immediately with Taco Bell and local health officials. All team members currently working at this restaurant have been offered vaccinations, and the restaurant was thoroughly sanitized.”

Deputy Health Commissioner of the Warren Health District Robert Pinti says he was informed Saturday about an employee testing positive for Hepatitis A.

“Our understanding is eight people were symptomatic having symptoms of Hepatitis A. They’ve received the vaccine also,” Pinti said.

The team member exposed to the virus is on leave and will not return until they are cleared by medical professionals, according to a spokesperson from Taco Bell.

“In this particular case in a restaurant setting, if that food prep handler is doing the right thing and keeping their hands clean, using their gloves, changing their gloves, washing their hands it would be very difficult to pass,” Pinti said.

Taco Bell says all employees working at this location have been offered vaccinations and the restaurant was thoroughly sanitized.

Ohio: People who ate at Cracker Barrel between Oct. 15-21 are being advised to consider getting the hepatitis A vaccine after a food service worker there tested positive for the viral infection.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department made the announcement Monday morning in a joint press release with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. An assessment by the health department determined the risk of infection was low, the release says.

The Mineral Wells restaurant voluntarily closed late Friday afternoon once test results confirming the employee had tested positive for hepatitis A were received, said Carrie Brainard, public information specialist for the health department. The facility was cleaned and sanitized overnight and reopened early Saturday morning following a health department inspection, she said.

“At Cracker Barrel, nothing is more important to us than the health and well-being of our guests and employees,” Cracker Barrel Old Country Store spokeswoman Heidi Pearce said in the release. “We are also working in collaboration with the Health Department to arrange for a clinic to vaccinate all employees.”

The investigation is related to the multistate outbreak of hepatitis A. An infected worker was reported at the Taco Bell in Belpre this spring.

Brainard said the Cracker Barrel employee is the first case involving a food worker reported in the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department’s eight-county service area.

“There have been no known cases of hepatitis A being passed from a food worker to a patron” in West Virginia, she said.

Still, the health department recommends people who have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A and ate at the restaurant during the period in question consider getting the vaccine. The release emphasizes this should be done “not more than two weeks from the potential exposure to help prevent infection.”

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