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State agency issues 2nd hepatitis alert after restaurant worker's illness confirmed

Vaccines free in Fort Smith, Paragould by Andy Davis | August 9, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

The diagnosis of a restaurant worker in Fort Smith with hepatitis A prompted the state Department of Health on Wednesday to issue its second alert about the disease in as many days.

The Red Lobster worker's illness appears to be related to travel outside Arkansas and not to the hepatitis A outbreak that has resulted in about 80 infections and one death in northeastern Arkansas, the department said in a news release.

People who ate at the restaurant at 7401 Rogers Ave. in Fort Smith between July 19 and Aug. 4 should seek vaccination immediately if they have never been immunized against hepatitis A or are unsure of their vaccination status, the department said.

The department will offer the vaccine at no charge from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the storm shelter at Ben Geren Park, 7700 S. Zero St. in Fort Smith.

People should enter from the west side of the park near the Parrot Island entrance, the department said.

The department issued a similar alert Tuesday about a worker at a Little Caesars Pizza restaurant at 1731 W. Kingshighway in Paragould.

People who ate there July 19-Aug. 2 should seek vaccinations if they haven't already been vaccinated or don't know their vaccination status.

In Paragould, the department will offer the shots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today 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 both cities, the vaccine will be offered at no charge, but people should take their insurance cards and driver's licenses, if they have them, the department said.

Three other cases of infected food-service workers in northeastern Arkansas also have prompted Health Department alerts since February.

In response to the outbreak, the department also has recommended the vaccine for all Greene County residents age 19-60.

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

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 08/09/2018

Print Headline: State agency issues 2nd hepatitis alert


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