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Be Aware of Hepatitis A Symptoms

Hepatitis A is very contagious and is usually transmitted person to person. Infected individuals shed the virus in their stool and may pass the virus to others if they don’t wash their hands adequately. Food contaminated by infected food handlers have been linked to large outbreaks in the past.

The early symptoms of fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea are the ones to look for in employees. Immediately get employees with these symptoms to the hospital. Dark colored urine and jaundice are later symptoms and should obviously be hospitalized and treated. Encourage hand washing constantly!

The average time between exposure and symptoms is 28 to 30 days, with a range of 15 to 50 days, according to the Department of Health.

Epidemiologist Casey Smith-Alexander from Albuquerque Health Department states that to prevent outbreaks, “Hand washing is of the utmost importance! Pay attention to employees who may be ill or going to the bathroom constantly. Be observant. That’s how the management of the affected restaurants caught the second case in their restaurants. They noticed a second employee who came down with the early symptoms.”

There have been nine cases of hepatitis A statewide so far this year. Eight of those cases have been in Bernalillo County. Statewide, there were 12 cases in 2007 and 16 in 2006.

The New Mexico Restaurant Association’s mission is to empower the food and beverage industry by promoting and protecting common values and interests. It has more than 1,000 members in 111 cities all over New Mexico, who join together for meetings, seminars and the hospitality industry awards to honor the industry’s top achievers. It has actively represented and promoted the food service industry in New Mexico since 1946.