State health officials were warning customers of a Northeast Arkansas convenience store Friday after an employee recently tested positive for hepatitis A, a highly contagious virus that can lead to lasting liver damage.
The Arkansas Department of Health said people who ate or drank at the Jordan’s Kwik Stop along U.S. 49 in Waldenburg between March 14 and March 29 should get tested for hepatitis if they haven’t been vaccinated.
State officials have recorded a steady increase of new cases in northeast Arkansas since February 2018. Public health officials have logged 317 cases in that time, including three related deaths.
State health agents issued a similar warning in February after a Subway employee in Trumann tested positive for the virus. State officials noted 41 new hepatitis A cases since then.
It wasn’t immediately known how many people were exposed in the latest case.
No treatments exist once a person contracts the illness other than a preventive vaccination that can stop the virus even after exposure, the Health Department said.
Symptoms can take weeks to appear, and they range from a mild to severe illness lasting several months, according to health officials. They include fever, nausea, fatigue and jaundice, which causes yellowing of the skin or eyes.
The Arkansas health agency urged people experiencing symptoms to seek medical care.
Hepatitis A is rarely fatal and most patients fully recover from it without lasting liver damage, according to the Health Department. But older people can experience more serious complications and symptoms
The Health Department said it plans to offer free vaccinations starting on Monday at the Poinsett County Health Units in Harrisburg, Marked Tree and Trumann, as well as another pop-up clinic in Waldenburg.