Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

Hepatitis A was diagnosed in an employee who handled food at Ruby Garden located at 812 S. Jefferson St. in Ava, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The investigation by the Douglas County Health Department found that the employee worked while infectious from Aug. 30 to 31. Ruby Garden is working with Douglas County Health Department to prevent any new illnesses from arising in the community because of the case.

While it is uncommon for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A virus due to an infected food handler, anyone who consumed food or drink at Ruby Garden between Aug. 30 and 31 is recommended to receive the hepatitis A vaccination by Sept. 13 or 14, or within two weeks of possible exposure, as further protection from becoming ill.

Anyone who consumed food or drink at Ruby Garden between Aug. 30 and 31 is also asked to monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection up to 50 days after exposure, wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food, and stay at home and contact their health care provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine, and light colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes might also occur. People can become ill up to seven weeks after being exposed to the virus. Anyone who thinks they may have symptoms of hepatitis A should contact a health care provider.

Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool (feces) from an infected person. Careful hand washing with soap and water, including under the fingernails, after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before preparing or eating food will help prevent the spread of this disease.

More information about hepatitis A is available online at health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/hepatitisa/index.php.

The Douglas County Health Department provided free vaccinations Saturday and Monday for patrons of Ruby Garden.

For any questions or to schedule an appointment for a vaccine, contact the Douglas County Health Department at 417-683-4213.

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