Health officials in Georgia are warning patrons of a popular Mexican grill after an employee who handles food tested positive for hepatitis A. The Bartow County Health Department said the employee, who works at Willy’s Mexicana Grill in Cartersville, was handling food for up to two weeks while infectious.
“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 a hepatitis A immunization is needed to prevent the disease,” the health department said on Facebook.
The health department said the employee was infectious while working from May 31 through June 17. It also asked anyone who consumed food and drink on the dates that the employee worked to monitor their health symptoms for up to 50 days post exposure, and to wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food. It also advised people to stay home and contact their health care provider if symptoms of hepatitis A develop.
“Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetitie, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and light-colored stools,” the health department wrote on Facebook. “Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People can become ill up to 50 days after being exposed to the virus.”
Health officials explained that the virus can be contracted when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of feces from an infected person.
The Bartow County Health Department is also offering free hepatitis A immunizations.