Alison Graham wrote:

A Franklin County woman filed a lawsuit against Famous Anthony’s, alleging that she contracted hepatitis A from eating at one of the chain’s restaurants.

According to the lawsuit, Mindy Perdue ate a gravy biscuit combo on Aug. 21 at the Famous Anthony’s on Grandin Road in Roanoke. A few weeks later, she began experiencing migraines, fever, vomiting, jaundice and dark urine. She was ultimately hospitalized.

Perdue is seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages for her medical expenses and lost wages from her illness. Perdue’s complaint, filed Wednesday in Roanoke City Circuit Court, claims the restaurant acted negligently by serving contaminated food and violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Perdue’s infection is associated with a hepatitis A outbreak at three Famous Anthony’s locations. An employee who worked at the three restaurants — on Grandin Road, Crystal Spring Avenue and Williamson Road — was diagnosed with the virus, which causes liver inflammation.

So far, 30 cases have been reported to the Virginia Department of Health related to this outbreak. Health department spokesperson Christie Wills said the window for symptoms to appear is still ongoing, so the department may continue to hear of new cases for at least a few more weeks.

Hepatitis A symptoms typically begin 28 days after exposure to the virus but can begin as early as 15 days and as late as 50 days. Hepatitis A is preventable with a vaccine.

Perdue is represented by Bill Marler, a foodborne illness attorney based in Seattle. Marler said he has spent 30 years working on similar cases, including ones for hepatitis A outbreaks.

He said while most people exposed to hepatitis A have minor illnesses, it can cause serious stress on the liver that could require a transplant. He said some people are killed from the infection.

“It’s a lot more devastating than people realize,” Marler said. “I hope everyone gets a vaccine, but especially food service workers.”

Marler said he has been retained by another person who was hospitalized following this outbreak and there may be more plaintiffs in the coming weeks.

Health department officials said anyone who visited any of the three locations between Aug. 10 and Aug. 26 may have been exposed. People who are not vaccinated against the virus are encouraged to monitor for symptoms and seek medical care if any develop.

Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, and jaundice or yellowing of the skin or eyes.

Those with symptoms should stay home while recovering. Hepatitis A can be spread through direct contact with an infected person or by contaminated food or drink.

A spokesperson for Famous Anthony’s could not immediately be reached for comment late Friday afternoon.