Now Available: Industry Guidelines for Response to Foodborne Illness

Although no one wants to be involved in a foodborne illness outbreak, it is a very good idea for operators to consider what their role might consist of if one were to be connected to their facility. To simplify this task, The Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR) have developed Foodborne Illness Response Guidelines  to help owners, operators, and managers of food service establishments take an active and informed role in outbreak response and investigation by identifying areas that need to be improved upon. Additionally, several tools are provided in the guide that can be used during a possible incident or to initiate efforts to help prevent one from happening.

Public Notification of Cobb Food Worker with Hepatitis A

Cobb & Douglas Public Health has issued public notice that a case of hepatitis A (HAV) has been diagnosed in a food handler at Vittles restaurant located in Smyrna, Georgia. An investigation found that this employee worked while infectious Wednesday, October 2, 2019. It is rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A virus due to an infected food handler, but anyone who consumed food or drink at Vittles on the above date should contact their healthcare provider to determine if a hepatitis A immunization is needed to prevent the disease.

Most healthcare facilities and pharmacies carry the hepatitis A vaccine, but call ahead to ensure availability.  Hepatitis A vaccination is also available at Cobb & Douglas Public Health clinics Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with no out-of-pocket cost, regardless of insurance status. (Please bring insurance card if available.)

Anyone who consumed food and/or drink at the restaurant on the date that employee worked is also asked to:

  1. Monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection up to 50 days after exposure.
  2. Wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
  3. Stay at home and contact their healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.

Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will prevent the spread of this disease.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and light-colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People can become ill up to 50 days after being exposed to the virus.

Hepatitis A is acquired when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection.

Food service owners and operators are reminded that a person may be infected with the hepatitis A virus several days before showing any signs and symptoms.  In addition to ensuring that good hygienic practices are adhered to and that all workers are aware of employee health reporting requirements, operators are highly encouraged to have their workers vaccinated against hepatitis A.

If you have questions regarding the hepatitis A infection, please call our Epidemiology & Health Assessment team at 770-514-2432.  For answers to questions regarding hepatitis A immunizations, please call 770-514-2349.   

An updated hepatitis A fact sheet prepared by the Georgia Department of Public Health provides a good summary that may be utilized in food service establishments to assist with the education of staff members and to assist in monitoring. A Spanish hepatitis A fact sheet is also available.

For more information on hepatitis A, go to www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.