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Hepatitis A case confirmed at Everett and Lake Stevens food businesses

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash., May 25, 2023—The Snohomish County Health Department has identified a case of Hepatitis A that occurred in a food worker who worked at two Taco Bell locations: 2727 Broadway in Everett and 303 91st Ave NE in Lake Stevens.

Anyone who ate food from the Everett location on May 22 or 23 or from the Lake Stevens location on May 23 should take the following actions:

  • Check if they are vaccinated against or immune to hepatitis A. People who are vaccinated or immune do not need to take any further action as they would be considered protected against this exposure. People can check their vaccination records by contacting their healthcare provider, using the Washington Immunization Information System at https://wa.myir.net or, if available, referring to their copy of their immunization record. People who have previously been infected with hepatitis A also may be immune. If they are not sure, they should check with their healthcare provider. 
  • Individuals who are not vaccinated, immune, or are unsure of their status should:
    • Contact their healthcare provider or contact the Snohomish County Health Department at 425-339-3503 (then press 1) for guidance and potential post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent illness. Post-exposure prophylaxis involves receiving the hep A vaccine or immune globulin (IG), which can provide immediate and lasting protection when given within two weeks of exposure to the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A vaccine is available from multiple healthcare providers or pharmacies in the county. Anyone who was exposed and is having trouble finding a vaccine provider, or who is uninsured or underinsured, should contact the Health Department. 
    • Monitor for any symptoms of illness. Stay home and do not prepare or serve food for others if you have symptoms. It takes between 15 and 50 days to become symptomatic after being exposed. Early signs of hepatitis A include:
      • fever
      • fatigue
      • loss of appetite
      • nausea
      • vomiting
      • diarrhea
      • dark urine and jaundice (yellowing of eyes or skin)
    • If you develop any of these symptoms, be especially thorough in handwashing after using the restroom and before preparing or handling food to avoid potentially spreading the illness further. Wash hands with soap and running water. Be sure to lather and scrub all surfaces including backs of the hands, wrists, between fingers, and under fingernails. 

The confirmed case appears to have been infected during international travel. The Snohomish County Health Department is working with the business to identify other workers who were potentially exposed and connect them with prevention information as well as resources for vaccination and post-exposure prophylaxis, as needed.

ABOUT HEPATITIS A

The hepatitis A virus lives in the poop or blood of someone who is infected and typically spreads through fecal contamination. The virus may be spread from person to person through close contact or through food handling. Consistent, thorough handwashing is essential to prevent spread through food handling. 

The illness varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less. More severe cases can last six weeks or longer. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice and may have an illness so mild that it can go unnoticed. However, even mildly ill people can still be highly infectious. Anyone with symptoms of hepatitis A and potential exposure who is not vaccinated or immune should consult a healthcare provider right away even if symptoms are mild. 

For more information, visit www.snohd.org/hepatitis

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