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How Hepatitis A Outbreaks Occur at Restaurants

Posted on in Hepatitis

How Hepatitis A Outbreaks Occur at RestaurantsIf you follow the news, you will occasionally see reports about a hepatitis A outbreak at a restaurant. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that humans can spread when not using proper hygiene during food preparation. Large outbreaks are usually traced to restaurants because one infected person preparing food can transmit the virus to numerous customers. Hepatitis A is rarely life-threatening unless you are already in poor health. However, you may still deserve compensation from a restaurant that exposed you to hepatitis A to pay for your medical expenses and other losses.

What Is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is one form of the hepatitis virus, causing liver inflammation that can last for weeks or months. It is a fecal-oral disease, meaning that people are infected when the virus enters their mouth and can spread the virus through their feces. Symptoms can take two to seven weeks to appear and may include fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, joint pain, and jaundice. People are at the greatest risk of contracting hepatitis A if they:

  • Use drugs;
  • Have unprotected sex;
  • Travel to countries where hepatitis A is common; or
  • Live in a generally unsanitary environment.

Though you may not directly put yourself at risk of infection, you have no control over whether a person preparing your food is infected. A carrier can spread the virus while not showing any symptoms.

Preventing Hepatitis A in Restaurants

The hepatitis A virus can survive for months outside of the human body, but there is little risk of contamination in restaurants as long as employees use proper sanitization methods, including:

  • Washing their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom;
  • Wearing gloves when preparing food; and
  • Sterilizing the kitchen.

There is also a hepatitis A vaccine that can protect you from the virus. The vaccine is safe for most healthy adults and is commonly given to children after age one. Some restaurants offer the vaccine to employees to help prevent infection, with a few making the vaccine mandatory.

Contact a Chicago Food Poisoning Lawyer

Local health departments will close restaurants with confirmed hepatitis A outbreaks until they have been deemed safe to serve customers. If you believe you may have contracted hepatitis A, you should visit a doctor immediately to identify your illness and check for public records of restaurants that have closed for health reasons. An Arlington Heights, Illinois, food poisoning attorney at Newland & Newland, LLP, can determine whether restaurant negligence was responsible for you contracting the virus. To schedule a consultation, call 312-981-0409.


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