Hep A Syringe Pack

As the hepatitis A outbreak continues to grow, with more new cases reported this week, rumors and the fear of county residents regarding their food safety grows.

In the last several months, the Franklin County Health Department has inspected and administered hepatitis A vaccines at seven facilities in Franklin County.

Those facilities are as follows:

• Franklin County Detention Center — Union;

• Maggie’s Over The Creek — Union;

• Twisted Fish — Washington; 

• Volpi Foods — Union; 

• Super 8 — Sullivan;

• Jack in the Box — Union; and

• Roadhouse 100 — Gray Summit.

Of all the facilities inspected, only Roadhouse 100 and Jack in the Box were temporarily closed and mass vaccinations were offered to those who may have eaten at the restaurants during specific times when a hepatitis A positive employee was working and may have exposed patrons to the virus by handling their food.

One of the first hepatitis A cases documented in the county was at the county jail when the outbreak first began in early January.

At that time, all of the inmates and the staff at the detention center were given vaccinations.

Public Information

During the investigations at the jail and the two restaurants, the county health department and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) issued press releases to the public.

Until now, the names of the other four establishments were kept from the public by both of those health agencies because they didn’t deem the cases there required public notification or action.  

The Missourian submitted a Sunshine Law request to the county health department to have the names of the establishments released.

Since she was required by state law to do so, health department Director Angie Hittson responded to the request but says she is worried publishing the information may cause the outbreak to grow. 

“I appreciate all that you do and I rely on you (The Missourian) as a partner to get information out to the public,” Hittson said. “If confirmed cases stop seeking medical care, knowingly attend work ill out of fear of public shame or stop communicating with us, this outbreak will worsen and we will lose our ability to protect the most vulnerable.”  

Cases

The report also gives details of what actions were taken at each facility by health department and DHSS staff.

Franklin County Detention Center — Communicable disease investigation completed. Contacts offered vaccinations. Vaccinations and education completed for exposed inmates and staff. Consult with DHSS completed. No press release warranted.

Maggie’s Over The Creek — Communicable disease investigation completed. Contacts offered vaccinations. Inspection of establishment completed. Education provided. Vaccinations completed for employees. Consult completed with DHSS. No press release warranted.

Twisted Fish — Communicable disease investigation completed. Contacts offered vaccinations. Inspection of establishment completed.  Vaccinations completed for employees. Consult completed with DHSS. No press release warranted. 

Volpi Foods — Communicable disease investigation completed. Contacts offered vaccinations. Inspection of establishment completed. Education provided. Vaccinations completed for employees. Consult completed with DHSS. No press release warranted. 

Jack in the Box — Communicable disease investigation completed. Contacts offered vaccinations. Inspection of establishment completed. Education provided. Vaccinations completed for employees. Consult completed with DHSS. Press release warranted. Information released to the public by the Department of Health and Senior Services. Vaccination clinics held for patrons of the establishment.

Roadhouse 100 — Communicable disease investigation completed. Contacts offered vaccinations.  Inspection of establishment completed. Education provided.  Vaccinations completed for employees. Consult completed with DHSS.  Press release warranted.  Information released to the public by the Department of Health and Senior Services. Vaccination clinics held for patrons of the establishment.

Super 8 Hotel

During the investigation of each hepatitis A case, the county health department identifies persons in close personal contact with the infected person to offer vaccinations and potentially stop the spread of the virus. 

In her report, Hittson explained the ill individual at this location was not an employee, but the individual stayed at the hotel while ill.

A group of individuals was identified with repeated exposure due to living arrangements. 

“We vaccinated at this location because we had a known group of high-risk contacts who lacked transportation,” Hittson explained. “To decrease the spread of hepatitis A we proactively went on site and provided services.”  

Like all of the other establishments, a communicable disease investigation was completed. Vaccinations were completed for contacts and offered to employees.