Kentucky Waffle House customers are the latest exposed to Hepatitis A outbreak

Waffle House
Waffle House AP

First Kroger customers, and now Waffle House patrons have been exposed to Hepatitis A during an outbreak in Kentucky.

An employee who worked at two Waffle House restaurants in Boyd County was diagnosed with Hepatitis A, according to the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department.

The window of possible exposure for the worker was Feb. 12 to 28, the health department said. It can take up to 50 days from exposure to the illness for symptoms to develop, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Waffle House restaurant owner and employees have cooperated fully and will notify its patrons of the potential exposure, the health department said. Employees of the Waffle House restaurants are receiving post-exposure Hepatitis A injections.

An employee at a Kroger in Louisville was diagnosed with Hepatitis A last week, according to the Courier-Journal. The 4915 Dixie Highway location advised shoppers to throw away produce bought at the store from Feb. 4 to 28.

The Kroger employee was wearing gloves while handling the produce, the Courier-Journal reported, but that does not eliminate the risk of acquiring the virus.

There has been one confirmed Hepatitis A case in Lexington, but it’s not known if it’s related to the state outbreak, according to Lexington-Fayette County Health Department communications officer Kevin Hall.

As of Tuesday, there were 150 cases of Hepatitis A in the state since 2017, and the number of cases were labeled an outbreak in November, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health. It said 124 cases were reported in Jefferson County, with additional cases in Anderson, Boyd, Bullitt, Carter, Hopkins, Kenton, Leslie, Marion, McCracken, Russell, Spencer and Taylor counties.

Kentucky typically averages 10 cases per year of Hepatitis A, the health department said.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus, which hits adults the hardest, according to the health department. Symptoms include fatigue, sudden nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain or discomfort, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, dark urine, joint pain, yellowing of the skin and whites of your eyes and intense itching.

People are at risk for the virus if they have been exposed to someone with it, have traveled to a country where the virus is common, if they are homeless or lack access to adequate restroom facilities, use illicit drugs or have had sexual contact with an infected person.

There is a two-week window upon exposure for an individual to receive the Hepatitis A vaccine, the health department said.

Mike Stunson: 859-231-1324, @mike_stunson