An employee at an Outback Steakhouse restaurant in Madison, Tenn., has tested positive for hepatitis A, health officials announced this week. Now, they're urging customers who dined at the restaurant just before Christmas to receive a vaccine to prevent the contagious liver infection.
The Metro Public Health Department announced earlier this week that the employee, who has not been identified, tested positive for acute Hepatitis A. He or she worked at the restaurant's Rivergate location while experiencing symptoms of the infection between Dec. 22 and Dec. 24, officials said.
“Individuals who dined at the restaurant on those dates have until January 7th to be vaccinated,” the Metro Public Health Department said, which added it is offering vaccinations at the Lentz Public Health Center on certain days until that date.
More than 100 people -- 143 people to be exact -- who dined at the restaurant had received a hepatitis A vaccine as of Thursday, a spokesperson for the Metro Health Department told WSMV-TV.
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.
Hepatitis A is preventable with a vaccine.