Outbreaks & Recalls

Hepatitis A Exposure at Cracker Barrel Prompts Erie County Department of Health Alert

According to a media release from Erie County Administration, the Erie County Department of Health has identified a hepatitis A exposure at Cracker Barrel.

This alert comes after a Cracker Barrel food worker with a confirmed case of hepatitis A potentially exposed patrons to the contagious virus while working at the 7810 Interstate Dr. location in Erie Pennsylvania.

Potential Exposure Times for Hepatitis A at Cracker Barrel

The potential exposure period for hepatitis A at Cracker Barrel dates back to January 30, 2024. According to the statement, “customers who ate or drank at the restaurant between January 30 and February 21, including those who ordered or delivered takeout may have been exposed.

Exposure Period

January 30 through February 21, 2024

Cracker Barrel, 7810 Interstate Dr., Erie, Pennsylvania

If you consumed food or drink during this hepatitis A exposure at Cracker Barrel time frame, you should monitor for symptoms.

For customers consuming food from the establishment between February 10 and February 21, prompt vaccination could prevent infection, as the hepatitis A vaccine has a prophylaxis effect.

Consult your healthcare provider or pharmacy to ask about the hepatitis A vaccine.

What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis A?

People may experience any combination of symptoms if they become infected with hepatitis A. In some cases, people, especially children, do not experience symptoms at all.

Common Symptoms may include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Feeling tired
  • Dark urine or light-colored stools

These symptoms usually appear between 2 to 7 weeks after exposure. In most cases symptoms will last less than 2 months, though some may remain ill for as long as 6 months.

What is the Restaurant Doing Following the Hepatitis A Exposure at Cracker Barrel?

According to the media release, the restaurant is undergoing cleaning and sanitation protocols. These cleaning protocols are established by corporate management in accordance with the Erie County Department of Health.

Employees are instructed to contact their managers for guidance.

How is Hepatitis A Spread Through Food

Hepatitis A is a lot like other foodborne illnesses. It is spread through the fecal-oral route. An infected food handler may contaminate food surfaces, commonly touched areas in the facility, and food if they do not use effective hygiene procedures (e.g. improper handwashing, not washing their hands, working while shedding the virus, notifying their supervisor of symptoms).

Restaurants are one of the most common sources of hepatitis A, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Infected food handlers present at the point of sale (such as in a restaurant) or who prepares food for social events (such as a wedding),” are among the top hepatitis A exposure events linked to outbreaks.

According to surveillance data, “many hundreds” of restaurant workers have hepatitis A every year. Most, however, do not transmit the virus to the customers.

Fortunately, proper handwashing practices and food handling procedures reduce the risk of exposure. Despite that information, an infected food worker should not be working while actively shedding the virus.

It only takes a microscopic amount of contaminated matter to transmit hepatitis A infection. These trace amounts of contamination can be so small that it cannot be observed with the naked eye. You would have no idea if the food you consumed was contaminated.

Additional Guidance Following the Hepatitis A Exposure at Cracker Barrel

If you have been exposed to hepatitis A, there are a few things you can do to help prevent the virus from spreading. It is as simple as washing your hands and getting vaccinated.

Wash Your Hands

The Erie Department of Health urges all customers, staff, and their families to wash their hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing food.

Get Vaccinated

Hepatitis A is a unique virus, in that vaccination within 14 days of exposure offers a prophylaxis affect, meaning it can prevent you from becoming infected. Even after exposure. It is also the only commonly vaccinated foodborne illness.

While the vaccine is performed in a 2-dose series, one dose provides significant protection. There is about 94% effectiveness after just one dose. When the second dose is administered 6 months later, this protection rises to nearly 100%. Long term immunity generally lasts for 20 years.

If you are eligible for vaccination and may have been impacted by this possible hepatitis A exposure event at Cracker Barrel during the dates listed above, and it has been less than 14 days since eating or drink there or food from there, getting a Hepatitis A vaccination can help reduce your risk of infection.

If it has been more than 14 days after consuming food at this Cracker Barrel location and you have not been previously vaccinated, you may still get the vaccine at any time to protect yourself against future exposures.

Some individuals may benefit from receiving hepatitis A immune globulin (IG) in addition to the hepatitis A vaccine. This is something that your healthcare provider can advise you on.

If you are already vaccinated for hepatitis A, good news! You already have protection and do not need to get additional hepatitis A vaccination doses.

Erie County Department of Health is Offering Assistance

According to the report, the Erie County Department of Health is working to obtain additional vaccines.

Additionally, the media release prompting patrons to become vaccinated offers assistance. “If you have no insurance or are underinsured, call 814-451-6707 for assistance.”

Have You Been Affected by this Hepatitis A Exposure at Cracker Barrel?

If you were potentially exposed to hepatitis A as a result of this possible exposure event at the 7810 Interstate Dr Cracker Barrel location in Erie, Pennsylvania during any of the possible exposure dates, it is a good idea to seek advice from an experienced hepatitis A exposure attorney.

The Lange Law Firm, PLLC and their talented team may be able to help you determine if you have a case and help you through the legal process. They have helped many families with cases just like yours.

Call (833) 330-3663 for a free consultation or click the online submission form and someone will get back with you shortly.

By: Heather Van Tassell (contributing writer, non-lawyer)

Heather Van Tassell

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