Hepatitis A is a viral infection that hits the liver. It spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.
The virus can spread at a restaurant when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet, prepares food or shares utensils with others while eating.
Symptoms may include loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, yellowing of the skin of the eyes, and brown-colored urine and light-colored stools. They usually appear 15 to 50 days after exposure.
If anyone develops these symptoms, they should stay at home and contact their health care provider immediately.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Usually, rest, fluids and good nutrition are prescribed. Those with hepatitis A should avoid drugs and alcohol because that can badly affect the liver as it’s fighting the virus.
Public health officials emphasized that it’s “relatively rare” for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis at a restaurant.
Even so, they advise anyone who consumed food or drink at the Middletown Buffalo Wild Wings location between March 31 and April 10 to consider contacting their health care provider for further guidance, especially those who have symptoms, are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions.
Staff of the food establishment have been advised to contact their health care provider to receive post-exposure prophylaxis, which may include the hepatitis A vaccine or a shot of immune globulin to prevent severe illness.
Those who do not have a primary health care provider should visit a local walk-in medical center (not an emergency room), and those who are uninsured or underinsured should contact one of the following DPH health clinics at:
Porter State Service Center, 509 W. 8th St., Wilmington. 302-777-2860
Hudson State Service Center, 501 Ogletown Road, Newark. 302-283-7587, option 2
Kent County Health Unit, River Road, Dover. 302-857-5140
Sussex County Health Unit, 544. S. Bedford St., Georgetown. 302-515-3220