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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Another Restaurant Employee Infected with Hepatitis A

It reads like the who’s who of restaurants – Carl’s Jr., Chi-Chi’s, D’Angelo’s, Friendly’s, Houlihan’s, Maple Lawn Dairy, McDonald’s, Quizno’s, Silver Grill Location Catering, Subway, Taco Bell – who we have sued over the last dozen years for allowing either a Hepatitis A infected worker to serve food, or serve food already infected with Hepatitis A. Either way, the outcome has been the same, hundreds sickened, several deaths and tens of thousands of customers standing in line for immune globulin (IG) vaccines.

Now, an employee of Chuy’s Mesquite Broiler on Rosedale Highway went to work with Hepatitis A. The Kern County Department of Public Health says the employee worked and was potentially infectious from Friday, January 4 until Thursday, January 10. The Health Department announced that IG vaccines for patrons who have not already received the Hepatitis A vaccines are available. The vaccinations will be available at Kern Faculty Medical Group at 2201 Mount Vernon Avenue, Suite 211 in Bakersfield. You can call them at 661-872-7000 for more information.

Over the last several years, we have repeatedly called on restaurants to voluntarily provide vaccines to employees to prevent this in the first place. My guess is that Chuy’s wishes they would have listened.

Hepatitis A is a communicable (or contagious) disease that spreads from person-to-person. It is spread almost exclusively through fecal-oral contact, generally from person-to-person, or via contaminated food or water. Food contaminated with the virus is the most common vehicle transmitting hepatitis A. The food preparer or cook is the individual most often contaminating the food, although he or she is generally not ill at the time of food preparation. The peak time of infectivity, when the most virus is present in the stool of an infectious individual, is during the two weeks before illness begins. Although only a small percentage of hepatitis A infections are associated with foodborne transmission, foodborne outbreaks have been increasingly implicated as a significant source of hepatitis A infection.