Austin, TX Whataburger food handler diagnosed with hepatitis A

If I were a food business owner I’d be worried about hepatitis A. Individuals can shed the virus without showing symptoms and even a Hep A positive handwashing superstar will result in lineups outside the business or at the health department while patrons get their post-exposure shots.images-7
Authors of a 2000 Journal of Food Protection  paper on the cost effectiveness of vaccinating food handlers arrived at the conclusion that the public health benefit of vaccinating for hep A doesn’t equal the costs – but doesn’t factor in all the bad publicity, hassle and incident management costs.
According to KXAN, an Austin outlet of Whataburger the famed Texas fast food chain is going through the crisis stuff right now – and it will cost them business even without patrons getting sick.
Health officials are wanting to alert the public about possible hepatitis A exposure at a Whataburger in Central Austin. A restaurant employee there at the 2800 Guadalupe St. location has been diagnosed with the hepatitis A virus.
 
While health officials say transmission of the infection to customers is not likely, the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department is recommending people contact their doctor if they ate at that specific Whataburger between Aug. 7 and Tuesday and fit the following criteria:
  • are 75 years old or older
  • are immune-compromised
  • have chronic liver disease or have had a liver transplant
  • have clotting-factor disorders
  • are experiencing hepatitis A symptoms
A bit out of the norm; the usual public health response is to administer protective post-exposure IgG shots to all.

Multistate US outbreak of hepatitis A infection linked to pomegranate seeds from Turkey

In 2013, an outbreak of hepatitis A made 162 people in 10 states sick after they ate a berry blend product purchased at a national chain store.

dsc-3622CDC detected the outbreak on May 15. Scientists promptly applied whole genome sequencing and other advanced analytic methods to establish that not only were the infecting strains identical, but also belonged to an unusual hepatitis A virus genotype that is rare in the United States.

CDC completed its analysis within a week of receiving samples from the first 20 cases. This automated technology proved to be quicker, simpler and more sensitive than if the samples had been processed by previous methods. As the outbreak spread, other cases also were found to be infected by the same viral strain.

Advanced molecular detection helped CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) link this specific strain of the virus with the outbreak investigation data to identify quickly a shipment of pomegranate seeds from Turkey as the source of the outbreak. With this information FDA was able to identify the company selling the seeds and take action to ensure shipments were stopped until checked. FDA worked with pomegranate seed distributors to make sure all recipients were notified.

A public announcement about the risk related to the product was made on May 31. Local public health departments and the retail chain that sold the product vaccinated more than 10,000 people as a precaution in case someone had been exposed.

Advanced molecular detection methods helped stop this outbreak in its tracks in record time, better protecting the health of the public.

Hepatitis A incident leads Colorado restaurant to make vaccinations for staff mandatory

Ft. Collins Colarodo is home of New Belgium beer, Colorado State University, and a restaurant that has been stung by having a food handler test positive with Hepatitis A. According to thedenverchannel.comTortilla Marissa’s North of the Border Cafe is closed until public health folks give them the okay to reopen.TortillaMarissas_1403912791692_6553175_ver1.0_640_480

A food worker employed at restaurant at 2635 S. College Ave., tested positive for Hepatitis A, a disease that might be passed to others through food directly handled by the employee before any symptoms appeared, according to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment.

Officials said diners who consumed food or drinks — either dine-in or take-out — from the restaurant in the past 14 days could benefit from getting a Hepatitis A vaccination or Immune Globulin injection to reduce the risk of illness.

Shots can be obtained from private health care providers or at two special clinics the Health Department will be holding on Sunday and Monday specifically for those potentially exposed  to Hepatitis A through the restaurant.

According to a statement released by the restaurant, they are making Hep A vaccinations mandatory for their staff.

We have instituted some new procedures including all future staff will be required to get an Hepatitis A vaccination before being allowed to work at Tortilla Marissa’s;  we have written a new employee sick policy based on best practices from around the country; and created some new systems in the kitchen. All of these practices exceed the standards set by the Larimer County Health Department as we are committed to our patrons health.

Now market it, so consumers know at retail; nearly all Westside melon handlers now certified

Tom Burfield of The Packer reports that as California’s Westside cantaloupe industry kicks off its second season under a safety inspection program, nearly all of the state’s cantaloupe handlers have received the required certification, said John Gilstrap, manager of the Dinuba-based California Cantaloupe Advisory Board.

cantaloupe.washGilstrap said that, to his knowledge, the cantaloupe marketing order that took effect in 2013 is “the only one in the produce industry that invites government auditors to inspect all aspects of the operation.”

To be certified, growers and handlers must comply with a 156-point checklist. If they don’t, they have to make corrections and be reinspected.

They’re also required to have a traceback system.

Names of certified handlers are listed on the board’s website, calcantaloupes.com. Companies that are decertified also will be listed, Gilstrap said, but companies that are pending certification will not be.

Hepatitis A warning for patrons of Jerusalem hotel

Health officials in Israel are issuing a warning for patrons of the Eyal Hotel in downtown Jerusalem after an employee was diagnosed with hepatitis A, according to a Yeshiva World report today. The employee was a cook with the hotel on Shamai Street.

hepatitis.AHealth officials are asking guests who ate breakfast in the hotel between the 18th and 23rd of May to report to their family physician if they were not vaccinated in the past. The warning states the vaccine can still be helpful at this time and it is advised to act as quickly as possible in the matter.

Red Robin has second hepatitis A incident in two weeks, this time in Missouri

Two weeks ago I wrote that I were a food business owner I’d be worried about hepatitis A.

Individuals can shed the virus without showing symptoms and even a Hep A positive handwashing superstar will result in lineups outside the business or at the health department while patrons get their post-exposure shots.RedRobinLogo1-300x214

Authors of a 2000 Journal of Food Protection paper on the cost effectiveness of vaccinating food handlers arrived at the conclusion that the public health benefit of vaccinating for hep A doesn’t outweigh the costs – but doesn’t factor in all the bad publicity, hassle and incident management costs. The stuff that a Stroudsburg, PA Red Robin restaurant is going through right now.

The corporate Red Robin folks must be working overtime, as an identical situation has popped up at a Missouri outlet of the chain. Same story, different location. According to USA Today, up to 5,000 may have been exposed to hepatitis A following after a food handler was diagnosed with the virus.

Health officials worry that as many as 5,000 people could have been exposed to hepatitis A at a Red Robin restaurant here after a worker was diagnosed with the virus.

Springfield-Greene County Health Department officials received a report Tuesday about the illness, which can affect the liver, and worked with state and federal officials to get enough vaccine shipped so people who went to the restaurant May 8 to 16 can be immunized.

The goal is to get as many customers vaccinated within 14 days of their possible exposure, officials said Wednesday. Otherwise, the shot won’t work, so they’ve set up clinics through the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“Upon being informed of the incident, the Springfield Red Robin took all safety measures to ensure the well being of our guests and team members including arranging the inoculation of all Springfield team members with the immune globulin prophylaxis shot,” Red Robin Gourmet Burgers officials said in a statement.

Wonder how many incidents it takes for a company to tip the scales to benefit outweighing cost on providing or requiring food handlers to have a hep A vaccination.

Hamptons residents not pleased: Hep A restaurant offers to host Kardashians

Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian have found a site for their Dash store in The Hamptons.

Restauranteur Irma Herzog – whose Driver’s Seat Restaurant was investigated last year after an employee was diagnosed with hepatitis A – has risked the wrath of local residents in Southampton by “betraying” the upmarket village and leasing an art gallery space adjacent to her eatery to the sisters, who are planning to spend the summer in the resort for new reality show ‘Kourtney & Khloe Take The Hamptons’.

Kourtney-and-Khloe-Take-The-HamptonsOne outraged source told the New York Post newspaper: “Southamptonites are abuzz that Irma Herzog has betrayed their village . . . Will Irma also be bringing back another bout of hepatitis?

“Now she brings trash to her backyard. People are lining up to buy Irma’s property and get her out of town. She is a piranha.” 

Hepatitis A linked to Red Robin restaurant in Pennsylvania

If I were a food business owner I’d be worried about hepatitis A. Individuals can shed the virus without showing symptoms and even a Hep A positive handwashing superstar will result in lineups outside the business or at the health department while patrons get their post-exposure shots. RedRobinLogo1

Authors of a 2000 Journal of Food Protection paper on the cost effectiveness of vaccinating food handlers arrived at the conclusion that the public health benefit of vaccinating for hep A doesn’t outweigh the costs – but doesn’t factor in all the bad publicity, hassle and incident management costs. The stuff that a Stroudsburg, PA Red Robin restaurant is going through right now.

According to the Pocono Record, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is looking into a Red Robin food handler who was recently diagnosed with hepatitis A.

“The Disease Prevention and Control Law prohibits us from providing further details as the investigation is ongoing at this time,” said Aimee Tysarczyk, press secretary/director of communications for the state Health Department.

“As the investigation continues and if any public health risks evolve, the department will provide additional information to ensure the safety and well-being of the public, as needed,” Tysarczyk said.

In a statement to the Pocono Record, Red Robin said:

“On May 5, 2014, Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group was informed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health that an employee at the Red Robin restaurant in Stroudsburg, Pa., had contracted Hepatitis A.

“The employee has not been in the restaurant since April 27, 2014, and will not return to work until he has been granted medical clearance.

The welfare of our guests and team members is Red Robin’s top priority.

“We are working closely with the health department to go beyond what is required.

With the last restaurant exposure listed as April 27 there isn’t a huge window to administer IgG shots.

From the duh files: should food workers be vaccinated against Hepatitis A?

JoNel Aleccia of NBC News writes the question of whether hepatitis A inoculations should be mandatory for food workers — or whether the cost to business isn’t worth the wider benefit — is gaining renewed attention from federal regulators, health officials and ordinary consumers amid a spate of new restaurant warnings.

hepatitis.AAs many as 17,000 people a year are sickened by hepatitis A, according to 2010 estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 95 people die. That’s only a fraction of the 48 million people in the U.S. who are sickened by food poisoning each year, but hepatitis A is the only foodborne bug for which an effective vaccine actually exists.

The hepatitis A virus causes acute liver infection that can trigger lingering illness and even liver failure or death, though that’s rare. It’s spread when a person ingests fecal material from an infected person and causes symptoms that include, fever, chills, nausea, dark-colored urine and jaundice, a yellowing of the skin or eyes.

In 2006, experts began recommending universal hepatitis A vaccines for kids starting at age 1, changing the pool of potential infections.

“There was a very rapid transition in the U.S. over the last half decade,” Murphy said. “We have this gap of adults who are not protected in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.”

In other words, the people most vulnerable to hepatitis A are those most likely to work — and eat — in restaurants.

Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety lawyer has lobbied for mandatory vaccination for food handlers since a hepatitis A outbreak tied to two Subway sandwich shops sickened 40 people in 1999.

“It was a horrible outbreak. We represented a bunch of people including a little boy who lost his liver at 8 years old and required a transplant,” he said.

But restaurant industry officials — and some health officials — note that such outbreaks and consequences, though regrettable, are rare.

Imported berry mix cake suspected to be the source of Hepatitis A in Norway

I’m still pissed I can’t figure out where my frozen berries are coming from.

Sure, I live in a sub-tropical climate with an abundance of berries, but retailers with the frozen berries will go for the cheapest source.

And frozen berries have been a mainstay of my diet for decades (because in Canada, fresh berries are available for about six weeks a year).

Guzman-Herrador et al. report in Eurosurveillance that on 7 March 2014, an increase in hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections was identified in Norway. As of 12 April, 19 cases of HAV infection with a virus strain identical to an ongoing European outbreak have been frozen.berry.cakeidentified. Six probable cases are currently under investigation. On 11 April, a frozen berry mix cake imported from another European country was found as the likely source of the outbreak; the importer has withdrawn the product in Norway.

An international traceback investigation is ongoing to find the origin of the berries used in the cake.

Internationally, there’s been over 11,000 cases of Hepatitis A linked to berries from the Mediterranean region over the past two years.