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The Arkansas Department of Health will offer the hepatitis A vaccine today in Grant and Jefferson counties after another food-service worker was diagnosed with the disease.

The vaccine will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Grant County Local Health Unit at 700 E. Center St. in Sheridan and the Jefferson County Local Health Unit at 2306 Rike Drive in Pine Bluff, the department said in a news release.

The shot is recommended for people who ate at the J Mart Diner at 1101 Sheridan Road in Redfield, where the infected employee worked, from July 17 through Aug. 2 and who have never been vaccinated or don't know if they have been, the department said.

People should take insurance cards and driver's licenses, if they have them, but will not have to pay out of pocket for the shot, the department said.

The vaccine may also be available at other county health units, but people should call to check on availability before visiting one, the department said.

The restaurant worker is among the 393 people who have been diagnosed with the liver disease during an outbreak that started in February 2018 and has included three deaths. Half of the people who have been diagnosed have been hospitalized, the department said.

In several instances, the diagnosis of a food-service worker has prompted the Health Department to issue an alert and offer free vaccines. However, sanitation practices make the risk of infection through eating at a restaurant low, the department said in the release.

The disease is primarily being spread through "close contacts in the community, not through eating at restaurants," the department said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the outbreak as one of several across the country that have occurred primarily among homeless people and drug users.

The liver disease is typically spread when a person ingests small amounts of fecal matter.

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

Although people may feel sick for months, most recover completely and will not have any lasting liver damage, the Health Department said.

Metro on 08/09/2019

Print Headline: Diner worker's hepatitis A diagnosis prompts vaccine offer in 2 Arkansas counties

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