An employee of a Panera Bread restaurant in Alabama has been diagnosed with hepatitis A, and people who ate food from that store from January 24 through February 5 may have been exposed to the disease, state officials said.
No other case has been reported, either among the food handlers at 2998 Carter Hill Road in Montgomery or the people who purchased food between the dates in question, Dr. Karen Landers, a physician at the Alabama Department of Public Health. he said on Tuesday.
She said the restaurant has not reported how many meals were sold during the 15-day period, but she is expected to do so.
"The number does not change what we do," Landers said in a telephone interview from Sheffield, Alabama.
The risk of exposure of a food handler in a restaurant is much lower than that of someone inside the home, Landers noted.
Clients are urged to be vaccinated
However, he said, people who ate at the restaurant or ate food to take away or distribute during the period in question should be aware of the symptoms. People whose food was also within the last two weeks should receive a vaccine against hepatitis A, he said.
To be effective, the vaccine must be administered before or within two weeks after exposure. It is available through private doctors, pharmacies and the health department in Montgomery County, according to press releases sent on Friday and Monday.
Because the vaccine has been recommended since 1996, it is possible that children under the age of 18 have already been vaccinated and that others have been vaccinated before traveling abroad, the statement said.
Symptoms of hepatitis A may include fever, headache, fatigue, lack of appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, or jaundice. They can appear 15 to 50 days after exposure, with an average of 28 days. No one needs to get tested for hepatitis A unless they have symptoms of the disease.