Health Alert: Potential Hepatitis A Exposure at Local Restaurant

August 26, 2016

For Information Contact:
Lorrie Andrew-Spear, Northern Region Public Information Officer, 703-530-2627

(Manassas) –An employee at the Tropical Smoothie Café Restaurant at 8069 Stonewall Shops Square in Gainesville, Virginia, has been diagnosed with hepatitis A. As a result, persons eating at this restaurant from July 28, 2016 through August 18, 2016 may have been exposed to hepatitis A.  Tropical Smoothie Café  notified the Virginia Department of Health about the case and has been complying fully with all requests.

This is part of the ongoing investigation into a cluster of hepatitis A cases potentially associated with smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Café restaurants in Virginia. Individuals who have not been previously vaccinated for hepatitis A, nor had the disease in the past, are susceptible to infection.  Susceptible individuals who ate or drank anything from the Tropical Smoothie Café in Gainesville on August 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 or 18 may still benefit from vaccine or immune globulin to prevent hepatitis A if received within two weeks of the date of exposure. Susceptible individuals who ate or drank anything at the restaurant on those dates should contact their health care providers, or may contact the Prince William Health District information line at 703-792-6345. Vaccine is available at various urgent care clinics and pharmacies in the community and at the Prince William Health District.

Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. The classic symptom of hepatitis A is jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin or the eyes. Other symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light-colored stools. Symptoms develop 15-50 days after exposure to the virus, which can occur through direct contact with another person who has the infection or by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated with the virus.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, contact your medical provider to be evaluated. It is very important for people who have symptoms of hepatitis A to stay home from work, especially if they work in food service.

Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.

Routine vaccination against hepatitis A has reduced the risk of this disease in the past decade. Vaccination is available to anyone, but specifically recommended for all children, for travelers to certain countries, and for people at high risk for infection with the virus. Hepatitis A vaccine is available from health care providers (including some pharmacies and travel clinics) to protect against this disease.

For more information on hepatitis A, visit: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/epidemiology-fact-sheets/hepatitis-a/.