By Madeline Farber
Published October 26, 2018
Heads up, Floridians: A restaurant worker in Tampa tested positive for hepatitis A, health officials said Thursday.
The employee, who has not been identified, worked at Hamburger Mary’s Bar and Grille in Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood between Oct. 4 and Oct. 20, Florida Department of Health leaders in Hillsborough County said in a statement.
The health department is now urging anyone who visited the restaurant during that period to get a hepatitis A vaccine if they are not already vaccinated.
The “highly contagious” liver infection is caused by the hepatitis A virus, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus typically spreads when a person eats or drinks something “contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person,” the health agency said.
Those who contract hepatitis A — not to be confused with hepatitis B or C, which are caused by different viruses — may be sick for “several weeks" and usually fully recover, according to the CDC. It is rare to die from the illness, though hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death, typically in those who are 50 years of age or older.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, dark urine, vomiting, joint pain and jaundice, among other signs.
While hepatitis A infections do happen in the U.S. — officials in Massachusetts issued a public health alert in September after one person died and 64 others were sickened by the disease since April — it is more common in developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are poor, the CDC says.
The disease is preventable with a vaccine. Any unvaccinated residents who went to the restaurant between Oct. 4 and Oct. 20 can receive the shot at the Department of Health's Sulphur Springs location, officials said.