Mississippi restaurant investigated after worker diagnosed with hepatitis

Published 9:22 pm Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Mississippi Department of Health says a restaurant worker in Vicksburg has been diagnosed with hepatitis A.

A news release people who ate at The Gumbo Pot on Halls Ferry Road on Jan. 17, 18 and 22, may have been exposed to the infectious liver disease, news agencies report.

“The risk of transmission of hepatitis A in this situation is likely very low,” but people who ate at the Gumbo Pot on Jan. 22 should consider getting vaccinated as a precaution if they haven’t already had the shots, said Dr. Paul Byers, the state epidemiologist.

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Free vaccinations are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the Warren County Health Department on Monroe Street in Vicksburg. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection says the vaccination is made up of two shots, six months apart.

They won’t protect people exposed more than 14 days earlier, so the department advises people who ate there on Jan. 17 or 18 to keep an eye out for symptoms and see a doctor if symptoms develop.

Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, joint pain and jaundice, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms usually appear two to six weeks after exposure — but people can spread hepatitis A without ever showing any symptoms.

The state health department says 149 people in Mississippi have come down with the disease since April 1, 2019, and 70 of them have been hospitalized. None has died.

Health inspectors gave the Gumbo Pot an A rating Friday, owner Perry Boyd told the Vicksburg Post.

Boyd said the worker had no symptoms Jan. 17 or 18. “When the employee came back to work on Jan. 22, she was sick and we sent them home,” he said. “It was then they went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with hepatitis A. They have not been back to work since then.”