Hep A Shot

The Bob Evans restaurant in Washington is the target of the most recent hepatitis A case over the weekend and mass vaccination clinics are being planned within the next 14 days.

On Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed a worker at Bob Evans was diagnosed with the virus while working at the establishment last week.

Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker said the total number of hepatitis A cases in Franklin County currently is 67. 

Hepatitis A has a 15- to 50-day incubation period which is different in every individual and the virus can be spread before the patient is symptomatic.

“Health officials are currently trying to determine if the employee was working there during the period they would have been contagious,” Brinker said. “This was during Fair week. The restaurant was not shut down at any time.”

Employees at the restaurant have been vaccinated and protocols will be followed to investigate those in close contact with the infected person.

The DHSS confirmed mass vaccinations are necessary for customers and anyone who may have visited the restaurant during the window the employee may have been handling food and drinks.

Outbreak Extension

Also on Tuesday, the county commission approved additional DHSS funding with the ongoing hepatitis A outbreak funding until Sept. 30.

As part of the contract, which began March 1, Franklin County will receive $25,704 in federal funding to help combat the largest hepatitis A outbreak in the state this year.

According to the contract language, DHSS will pay the county a fixed price of $29.21 per hour for each registered nurse and $19.76 per hour for each licensed practical nurse and $15 per hour for medical assistants.

Within 30 days of the end of the contract period the county must certify it put forth the required level of effort in battling the outbreak.

The DHSS also will reimburse the county up to $2,500 to develop a hepatitis A outbreak plan for the region.

Restaurants

In the last two months there have been two other restaurants shutdown and investigated in Franklin County.

In June, a female worker at the Jack in the Box in Union was diagnosed with hepatitis A and the restaurant was closed temporarily. 

All employees had to be vaccinated before returning to work and two vaccination clinics were held for patrons who may have eaten at the establishment.

Friday and Saturday, June 21 and 22, county and state health staff administered 720 vaccines to 665 adults and 55 children, who visited a Union fast-food restaurant over three separate weekends.

In early July, hepatitis A was diagnosed in an employee who handled food at Roadhouse 100 located in Gray Summit. 

The investigation by the Franklin County Health Department found that this employee worked while infectious June 23 through July 5.

Two vaccination clinics were also held for possible patrons of that establishment and about 80 vaccinations were administered in two days.

Health Regulation  

On July 30, the county commission passed a regulation mandating employers at roughly 500 establishments in Franklin County to vaccinate all food handlers against hepatitis A before they are allowed to work.

Food establishments were notified by letter of the new requirements by the health department and the 90-day clock is now ticking.

Producing records of hepatitis A vaccinations will be part of ongoing random health department inspections — if businesses do not comply, they will be shut down.

The vaccination regulation will be enforced as part of the county health department’s biannual inspections of establishments that serve food in the county.

The regulation defines food handlers as: A person who is employed by any person or entity in any capacity which requires the preparation, handling or touching of any food (except uncut produce), utensils, serving items or kitchen or serving area surfaces or materials, in a place where food that is intended for individual service and consumption is routinely provided completely prepared, regardless of whether consumption is on or off the premises and regardless of whether there is a charge for the food. 

Such places include restaurants, hospital cafeterias, school and nursing home kitchens, day care facilities, residential group homes, caterers, banquet facilities, coffee shops, cafeterias, short order cafes, luncheonettes, taverns, sandwich stands, soda fountains, food vending carts and all other eating or drinking establishments, as well as kitchens, commissaries or other places in which food or drink is prepared for individual sale elsewhere.