Hepatitis A scare in Buffalo County

MONDOVI, Wis. (WEAU) - The Buffalo County Health Department released a statement saying an employee at Hansen’s IGA tested positive for Hepatitis A.

Hansen’s IGA Market was made aware of a part-time employee in the deli department who tested positive for Hepatitis A. Now, the Buffalo County Health Department is advising people who shopped there to talk to their health care provider if they think they were exposed.

Hepatitis A is a serious, but treatable, disease. The Buffalo County Health Department and Hansen’s IGA Market released statements regarding a possible Hepatitis A exposure at the Hansen’s IGA in Mondovi.

April Loeffler is a Buffalo County Health Officer. She says someone may not know they have Hepatitis A.

“Hepatitis A is a serious highly contagious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis A virus,” she said. “It is found in feces or poop of a person who is infected with Hepatitis A. Sometimes people are considered infectious when they don't even know they are sick."

According to Loeffler, Hepatitis A is primarily spread by a person's unwashed hands.

“If they go to the bathroom and say they don't do the best job washing hands and then they go prepare food for someone to eat, it could be spread in that manner.”

While there is no treatment for Hepatitis A, there is a preventative vaccine. Loeffler says some people recover on their own, while some need further medical treatment.

“Within 14 days of being exposed to the Hepatitis A virus, the vaccination can help prevent it,” Loeffler said. “Once they've cleared it, they are protected I guess you could say. They're immune to it after that point.”

According to the Eau Claire City County Health Department, six months after the initial vaccine, a person is able to get another round of the vaccine, which gives them immunity. Loeffler says she does not know the number of people potentially impacted.

“I cannot speculate at this time, because they serve the public and it is kind of broad,” she said.

In the Hansen’s IGA Market statement, the company says quote, "There were no incidents involving the employee while at work and any rumor to the contrary is false.”

According to that press release, if you ate at the Hansen’s IGA Deli in Mondovi between October 28 and November 17, contact your physician to discuss your exposure risk.

“If they have insurance, we ask them to contact their health care provider,” Loeffler said. “If they have any barriers to getting that vaccine, they can give us a call.”

Symptoms of Hepatitis A include: abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, clay-colored stool, fever, chills, and Jaundice. Jaundice is yellowing of skin and eyes.

If you have any questions about Hepatitis A or the vaccine, contact your health care provider or local health department. The link to the Department of Health and Human Services can be found here.