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Hepatitis A in Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant Worker

Posted in Hep A,Hepatitis A,Outbreaks & Recalls on June 5, 2020

By Jory Lange

A Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant employee was diagnosed with Hepatitis A.  According to Maine CDC, “restaurant patrons may be at risk for hepatitis A infection.”  Hepatitis A is highly contagious virus.  The restaurant employee handled food at the Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant while contagious from May 12thto May 23rd.  There is a Hepatitis A vaccine which is effective is administered within 14 days of exposure.  “Maine CDC is recommending that anyone who may have eaten food prepared at or worked at the Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant in Saco on May 22, 2020, and May 23, 2020, receive hepatitis A vaccine by Saturday, June 6, 2020, as there is a 14-day window during which prophylaxis is effective after exposure.”  “Anyone who visited the restaurant from May 12, 2020, thru May 21, 2020, is outside the window for which prophylaxis is recommended, but are advised to watch for symptoms and seek medical attention should they develop symptoms.”  This recommendation includes anyone who may have had take-out, delivery, or curbside pickup of food from the restaurant.

News broke Friday after Maine CDC “identified a case of acute hepatitis A virus infection in a Saco, Maine, food service worker. The case handled food while infectious from May 12, 2020, thru May 23, 2020.” The Portland Press Heraldreports that Maine CDC informed the restaurant of the situation on Thursday evening.  One of the restaurant’s owners, Morey Highbarger, “said in a telephone interview on Friday that none of the employees or any customers  have reported illness. He said the employee who had the disease has recovered and has been cleared to return to work.” Highbarger said Maine CDC is working to trace the source of the employee’s infection and that “The person was infected outside this facility.”  CBS 13reports that “Management at Sea Salt Lobster confirm with CBS13 that a worker tested positive for the virus, and says that they have since tested all employees. They say no employees or customers have reported a positive test.”

If You Ate at Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant, What Can You Do?

Maine CDC says the best way to prevent Hepatitis A is to get the Hepatitis A vaccine.  Anyone who ate food from Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant on May 22 or May 23 should get a Hepatitis A vaccine.  Anyone who ate food from the restaurant on May 12 to May 21 should watch for symptoms and seek medical treatment if they develop Hepatitis A symptoms.

What Are Hepatitis A Symptoms?

Hepatitis A symptoms start appearing after 2-6 weeks of exposure, sometimes even up to 7 weeks after. Symptoms usually last for less than 2 months. But some people (10-15%) can suffer from the symptoms of Hepatitis A for as long as 6 months.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A include:

  • Jaundice
  • Dark Urine
  • Pale stools
  • Joint pain and Muscle Pain
  • High Temperature
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Itchy Skin
  • Pain in upper part of the abdomen

About 10-15% of those infected may have a recurrence in the symptoms during the 6 months after the initial infection.

How is Hepatitis A Diagnosed and Treated?

The diagnosis of Hepatitis A involves detection of HAV specific IgM antibodies in the blood. It is detectable after 1-2 weeks of exposure (getting infected) by HAV and is present for up to 14 weeks. The presence of these antibodies indicates that the acute stage of illness is now over, and the person has become immune to other infection.

The medical and general treatment for Hepatitis A involves:

  • rest
  • eating small, light meals
  • avoiding alcohol to reduce strain on liver
  • practicing good hygiene

Anyone who suspects that they may have contracted Hepatitis A should see their doctor if they have any of the symptoms mentioned above of Hepatitis. A visit to the doctor may also be a good idea if someone has traveled to a country where Hepatitis A is common or has been to a restaurant and eaten a meal that linked to a Hepatitis A outbreak.

If the exposure period is still within the first 2 weeks, a post-exposure vaccine can be given as another form of treatment.

What Are Hepatitis A’s Long-Term Complications?

For most people, the symptoms of Hepatitis A will completely go away within months of infection. There usually will be no long-term effects after an infected person has recovered. After the infection has passed, the infected person develops a lifelong immunity against the virus.

Generally, about 1 in 7 people will have the symptoms of the infection on and off for 6 months before their bodies eventually get over the illness.

Life-threatening complications from Hepatitis A are rare.  But it can cause liver failure. About 1 in 250 people who become infected with Hepatitis A will develop liver failure. People who are at risk of this complication are elderly people and those who might suffer from preexisting liver problems.

Could Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant Have Protected Its Customers?

Yes.  Hepatitis A is a preventable illness.  Once someone has been vaccinated for Hepatitis A, they cannot contract or spread the Hepatitis A virus.  Any restaurant that wants to keep its customers safe could do so by requiring that all employees who handle food get Hepatitis A vaccines.

How The Lange Law Firm Can Help

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by severe food poisoning.  When restaurants cause Hepatitis A outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm is the only law firm in the nation solely focused on representing families in who have been harmed by tainted food or water.

If you developed Hepatitis A after eating food from Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant between May 12 and May 23, 2020 and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we can help.  Our Hepatitis A lawyercan help you pursue legal compensation for your Hepatitis A infection. Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.