An employee of Sonny’s BBQ in Richmond has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A, according to the Madison County Health Department.
All individuals who ate at the Center Drive restaurant between Nov. 18 and Dec. 1 should watch for signs and symptoms of the disease, which can take 15 to 50 days to appear. The risk is low, according to the health department.
Sonny’s BBQ was notified by a franchisee on Dec. 7 that a staff member at the Richmond restaurant had been diagnosed with Hepatitis A, the restaurant chain said in a statement Monday. The employee had not been back to work since Dec. 1 and the restaurant has since been sanitized, according to the statement.
“At Sonny’s BBQ, the health and safety of our guests and employees are our top priorities,” the restaurant chain said in the statement. “Amid the current Hepatitis A virus outbreak in Kentucky, our team is and has been taking necessary precautions by reinforcing sanitation protocols with team members and requiring any team members who are experiencing symptoms to stay home and seek immediate medical attention.”
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The franchisee that owns multiple Kentucky Sonny’s BBQ locations, ACG BBQ, LLC., is covering the cost of Hepatitis A vaccinations for its employees in the state, according to the statement.
Madison County declared a Hepatitis A outbreak in October following a large uptick in cases. Of the 2,865 Hepatitis A cases in the state from Aug. 1, 2017 to Nov. 24, 2018, Madison County has 49.
The Madison County Health Department recommended Hepatitis A vaccinations for all residents.
“We have always known that Madison County would eventually declare outbreak status due to the nature of the statewide situation, which is why we have been so proactive in our efforts to vaccinate the at-risk populations in the county,” Madison County Public Health Director Nancy Crewe said. “Those efforts should have a mitigating effect on the severity of the outbreak. We certainly don’t think there is any need for panic, but it is important that we get the word out to our citizens and encourage them to get the vaccine.”
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that is often spread when someone eats or drinks something contaminated by small amounts of stool from an infected person, according to the health department.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine and yellowing of the skin and eyes. People can become ill 15 days to 50 days after being exposed to the virus, the health department said.