Hepatitis A has been found in a food handler working at a Pinal County Subway restaurant near Queen Creek. County officials said they are investigating the case.
County officials said they are investigating the case and that people who ate at the restaurant between Dec. 10-23 may have been exposed to the virus that causes liver disease. The Subway is at 1781 W. Hunt Highway.
The case comes on the heels of a report that food handlers who worked at two Guadalupe restaurants had the virus and customers may have been exposed between Dec. 24-30.
Hepatitis A is found in the feces of people with the virus. It can be spread after an infected person does not thoroughly wash their hands after using the restroom.
The time from when a person is exposed until symptoms appear can be between 15-50 days, although the average is 28-30 days, according to county health officials.
Symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and fever. The health officials said people who think they have such symptoms should talk to their doctor.
Short-term prevention of hepatitis A is available from immune globulin but because the last possible day of exposure at the Subway was Dec. 23, immune globulin would not help prevent infection in that case, the officials said.
They also remind people to wash their hands after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing and eating food.
“We’ve been talking to the (Subway) operator and trying to get all of our (food establishment) operators to understand that if you’ve got somebody sick you don’t want them working,” said Reg Glos, director of the Pinal County Division of Environmental Health.
“It’s to the operator’s best interest to ensure that there aren’t sick people handling food. We encourage operators to have sick policies to not penalize employees for not working when they’re sick.”
The A, B, Cs of hepatitis
Hepatitis A: A liver disease that can occur in isolated cases and widespread epidemics. Once a person has had hepatitis A, they cannot get it again. Symptoms are generally worse the older someone is, and the virus can cause prolonged or relapsing symptoms over a six to nine month period.
Hepatitis B: A serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. It can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure and death.
Hepatitis C: A liver disease spread by contact with the blood of an infected person. It can cause chronic infection and is a leading cause for liver transplants.
Hepatitis D: A liver disease found in the blood of people infected with the virus. It can cause liver failure or cirrhosis.
Hepatitis E: A liver disease transmitted in much the same way as hepatitis A. Hepatitis E does not occur often in the United States and is associated with contaminated drinking water.