Milford, Ohio – Clermont County Public Health has identified a case of hepatitis A in an employee at the IHOP restaurant at 5699 Romar Drive in Milford.
According to the Clermont County Board of Health the risk to patrons is extremely low. However, as a precaution they are asking anyone who has eaten at IHOP from December 25 – December 31 to monitor for symptoms of the virus for up to 50 days.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include:
- Low appetite
- Stomach pain
- Clay-colored stools
- Jaundice (yellowish color to the skin and eyes)
The disease, which affects the liver, can be spread through eating or drinking contaminated food. Food can get contaminated if a person who has the virus does not wash their hands properly after using the bathroom and before preparing or touching food.
“The restaurant management has been very cooperative and we are working with them to review safe food handling techniques,” said Assistant Health Commissioner Tim Kelly.
A vaccine can protect you from getting sick if received within two weeks of contact with the virus. Patrons should contact their health care provider if they have questions or concerns.
“Though it is possible to spread hepatitis A through contaminated food, the risk is extremely low,” said Kelly. “The majority of cases we are seeing during this outbreak are from other risk factors.”
The Ohio Department of Health declared a statewide outbreak of hepatitis A in June. So far, there have been 1,370 cases statewide and 42 cases in Clermont County that are linked to this outbreak.
People at the highest risk of hepatitis A during this outbreak include:
- People with direct contact with anyone who has the virus
- People who use illegal drugs
- People who are homeless
- People who have traveled to other areas of the U.S. that are currently experiencing an outbreak
- People who have been incarcerated
- Men who have sex with men
In addition to getting a vaccine, the best way to protect yourself from hepatitis A is to wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and before eating.
Illness from hepatitis A can range from a mild case that lasts a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.
For more information on hepatitis A, click here.