New hepatitis case found in Jonesboro
Customers of a catfish restaurant in Jonesboro became the latest focus of a warning on Wednesday by state health officials about possible exposure to hepatitis A.
Citing a Murdock’s Catfish employee’s recent diagnosis with the liver disease, the Department of Health urged people who ate at the restaurant from Sept. 27 to Oct. 5 to seek vaccinations immediately if they have never been immunized or aren’t sure whether they have been.
The department will offer the vaccine in Jonesboro from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at the Earl Bell Community Center at 1212 S. Church St.
People should have their insurance cards and driver’s licenses, but will not have to pay out of pocket for the shot, the department said.
The restaurant worker is one of 158 people in northeastern and eastern Arkansas who have been diagnosed with the disease since February, including one who died, the department said.
At least 70 cases have been in Greene County, where the department has urged all residents ages 19-60 and all food handlers to seek vaccination.
The department has also recommended the vaccine for all food handlers in Craighead and Clay counties, which have each had at least 30 cases.
Cases have also been reported in Arkansas, Independence, Lawrence, Lee, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett and Randolph counties.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the outbreak is one of several across the country that have affected primarily drug users and homeless people.
The disease is typically contracted when a person ingests small amounts of fecal matter. Although a person may feel sick for months, most people recover completely and will not have any lasting liver damage, the department said.
Typical symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain or jaundice.