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A Little Caesars Pizza in Paragould on Tuesday became the latest northeast Arkansas restaurant where a worker's diagnosis with hepatitis A prompted the state Department Health to issue an alert.

People who ate at the restaurant at 1731 W. Kingshighway from July 19 to Aug. 2 should be immediately vaccinated against the contagious liver disease if they haven't already been vaccinated or don't know their vaccination status, the department said.

Because of an outbreak resulting in the infection of 80 people and one death in northeast Arkansas, the department has also recommended vaccinations for everyone ages 19-60 in Greene County.

The department will offer the shots for free from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Paragould Community Center at 3404 Linwood Drive and on Aug. 16-17 in Eastside Baptist Church at 529 E. Court St. in Paragould. It advises people seeking vaccinations to provide their insurance cards and driver's licenses, if they have them, when they arrive at the vaccination sites.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the outbreak is one of several across the country that has affected primarily drug users and homeless people.

Since February, three other cases of infected food service workers in Arkansas have prompted the Health Department to issue alerts.

All but one of the state's cases have occurred in people ages 19-60. Many children have already been vaccinated, and many adults over age 60 have developed immunity through previous exposure to the virus.

According to the Health Department's website, at least 40 cases have been reported in Greene County. Infections have also been reported in Clay, Craighead, Independence, Lawrence, Mississippi and Randolph counties.

The disease affects the liver and is typically spread when a person ingests small amounts of fecal matter. Although a person may feel sick for months, most people recover completely and will not have any lasting liver damage, the department said.

Typical symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain or jaundice.

Metro on 08/08/2018

Print Headline: Eatery worker's illness prompts new health alert

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