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US Chili customers may have eaten food contaminated with hepatitis A

Posted at 9:39 PM, Apr 17, 2019

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Health Department issued a warning Wednesday night for people who might have eaten at the US Chili at 2965 Colerain Avenue between March 28 and April 6. An employee of the restaurant has been diagnosed with hepatitis A.

Health department officials said the only people at risk of illness are those who visited the restaurant in that time period and who have not previously been vaccinated for hepatitis A.

In a Thursday morning press conference, health officials said this is the first instance where there’s been a risk from a food handler to the public in Cincinnati. About 60-70 people eat at the restaurant daily, health officials said.

Health officials are encouraging people who ate at the restaurant between March 28 and April 6 to get vaccinated. The Cincinnati Health Department has 160 doses on hand, and officials are ordering more.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease that can cause symptoms including fever, nausea and vomiting. The illness generally resolves itself within a few weeks and does not result in chronic hepatitis.

The hepatitis virus can be spread through close personal contact with an infected person or from consuming food or beverages contaminated with small amounts of an infected person's stool.

Hepatitis A has been a significant health problem in Ohio and Kentucky since 2018, when health departments in both states declared an outbreak — and it has, in turn, become a significant problem for area restaurants. Some have spent money to have healthy employees vaccinated; others have lost business after health department reports of a sick employee.

Health officials recommend that anyone who believes they could be infected monitor themselves for symptoms, take special care to wash their hands with soap and warm water, and get the hepatitis A vaccine at their doctor, pharmacy or county health center.