A food service worker at an upscale restaurant in Birmingham has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A.
The worker may have exposed patrons to the virus.
Dr. Frank McGeorge explains what exactly Hepatitis A is and how it is treated:
This is an important warning because unlike other forms of Hepatitis that are spread by contact with infected blood, Hepatitis A is spread by contamination of food and water. The health department is warning anyone who might have eaten at the restaurant between July 16 and August 6 that they may have been exposed to the virus. Hepatitis A causes inflammation of the liver so symptoms include a fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dark urine, and jaundice -- which is a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes. Symptoms typically begin between two to four weeks, but can show up as late as two months after exposure.
The good news is that there is a preventative treatment for potentially exposed people -- there is a vaccine and another treatment -- immunoglobulin -- that can be effective if given within two weeks of exposure. So if you think you were exposed it is a good idea to contact your doctor or health department. Most people who develop Hepatitis A recover completely and develop immunity. However, occasionally it can cause dangerous liver failure -- so it shouldn't be ignored.