A food service employee at a small, family-owned Mexican restaurant in Colorado has tested positive for Hepatitis A. The Fort Collins-based Tortilla Marissa's has voluntarily closed after health officials confirmed the news earlier today. Per the report from the Larimer County Department of Health, "The risk of transmission to others occurred primarily in June, 2014, but there is a very low risk that transmission might extend back to May of this year."
Though no secondary cases have been reported, the disease's long incubation period — 14 to 50 days — means that every customer who dined at the restaurant in the past two months is at risk. The Health Department is recommending that anyone who consumed food or drink (either dine-in or take-out) from Tortilla Marissa's consider getting a Hepatitis A vaccination or Immune Globulin (IG) injection to reduce the risk of illness. The county is providing shots free-of-charge this upcoming Sunday and Monday.
The vaccine won't help those who dined at the restaurant prior to June 11, the Larimer County DOH notes. Former patrons of the restaurant should "monitor their health and contact their health care provider if hepatitis symptoms develop. Symptoms of hepatitis A may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, gray or white stools, and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and/or skin). Symptoms are more severe in adults than children." For most people, symptoms usually appear about four weeks after coming into contact with the virus.
Meanwhile, Tortilla Marissa's has taken to Facebook to apologize for the closure:
Hep A scares seem to be on the rise. Just last month, an employee at a Red Robin restaurant in Missouri tested positive for Hep A, putting thousands of people at risk. Should officials require tests for food handlers? Or should we all get vaccinated as soon as possible?
· Health Department Warns of Possible Exposure to Hepatitis A [Larimer County]
· Possible Hepatitis A Exposure at Fort Collins Restaurant [Food Safety News]
· All Food Safety Coverage on Eater [-E-]