Worker infected with hepatitis A handled food at Bartow County restaurant

Health officials are warning anyone who recently ate at a popular Cartersville Mexican restaurant to get checked for possible exposure to hepatitis A.

A worker at the Willy’s Mexicana Grill at 100 Main Street handled food while infectious with the virus for more than two weeks earlier this month, according to the Bartow County Health Department.

Hepatitis A, a viral infection of the liver, can be contracted from contaminated food or water, or from contact with an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his or her hands adequately after using the bathroom, health officials said.

The Willy’s employee was carrying the virus and continued working from May 31 through June 17.

“It is relatively rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A virus due to an infected food handler, but anyone who consumed food or drink at Willy’s Mexicana Grill on the above dates should contact their healthcare provider to determine if hepatitis A immunization is needed to prevent the disease,” officials said in a statement.

Potential Hepatitis A Exposure from Restaurant Worker Free hepatitis A immunization is available at the Bartow County...

Posted by Bartow County Health Department on Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Those who may have come in contact with the worker should monitor their health for symptoms up to 50 days after possible exposure. Officials said they should also wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food, to prevent the spread of the virus.

If symptoms of a hepatitis A infection develop, contact a healthcare provider immediately, officials said. Symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever and stomach pain, among others.

The Bartow County Health Department is offering free hepatitis A immunizations at their office at 100 Zena Drive in Cartersville. More information on the virus is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

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