Clermont County Taco Bell worker diagnosed with hepatitis A, health officials say

BATAVIA, Ohio -- Clermont County Public Health officials on Tuesday warned patrons of the Taco Bell on State Route 28 in Miami Township to monitor themselves for hepatitis A symptoms after an employee of the restaurant was diagnosed with the virus.

Although the risk to patrons is "extremely low," anyone one who ate at that Taco Bell between Aug. 15-17 should be mindful of the symptoms for up to 50 days, officials warned. Those symptoms include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, clay-colored stool and jaundice (yellowish color to the skin and eyes).

For anyone who may have been exposed to the virus, a vaccine can help protect you if it's administered within two weeks of contact.

"The restaurant management has been very cooperative and we are working with them to review safe food handling techniques," Health Commissioner Julianne Nesbit said.

In a statement, Taco Bell said that the operator of that restaurant began working with health officials immediately as soon as they learned of the employee's diagnosis. The employee is on leave and won't return to work until cleared by medical professionals.

"All team members currently working at this restaurant will be offered vaccinations and the restaurant will be thoroughly sanitized," Taco Bell said in the statement. "Ensuring the health and wellbeing of our team members and our customers is our highest priority, which is why we are taking this matter so seriously."

Hepatitis A is spread by ingesting fluids or particles of feces from a person with the virus. Food and drink touched by an infected person who did not wash their hands after using the bathroom are among the most common vectors of transmission.

The virus has been a growing problem across the region. Officials recently declared an outbreak of hepatitis A in Northern Kentucky, and Cincinnati health officials said in July that the city had its first confirmed cases of hepatitis A since 2014.

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