The Marshall County Health Department (MCHD) has confirmed a case of Hepatitis A in a food service worker at KFC, 122 Lafayette Avenue in Moundsville, West Virginia.

“While the risk of the disease transmission is very low, persons who have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A and who consumed food or drink at the restaurant between July 22, 2019 and August 5, 2019  should consider getting hepatitis A vaccine not more than two weeks after their exposure to help prevent infection,” said Marshall County Health Department Administrator Tom Cook.

Individual health care providers or the Marshall County Health Department (health departments of the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia) can help determine proper prevention.  Hepatitis A vaccine is available from most health care provider offices, pharmacies, and urgent cares clinics, but individuals should call ahead to ensure availability. Vaccine is available at most local health departments, including the Marshall County Health Department, Wetzel/Tyler Health Department and the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department.

The purpose of this alert is preventive; no cases resulting from exposure at the restaurant have been reported, MCHD investigation finds the restaurant to be safe to operate today. The MCHD reviewed KFC’s food handling practices and did not find a need for critical action beyond establishing general awareness of the incident among guest. KFC will continue partnering with the health department while upholding a commitment to the highest health and food safety standards within the restaurants.

Hepatitis A is a viral disease of the liver. It is spread from person to person by the “fecal-oral” route often by inadequate handwashing after using the toilet or changing diapers.

Persons suspecting that they have symptoms of hepatitis should contact their health care provider. Persons working as food handlers who experience symptoms of hepatitis should not work and should be seen by a health care provider. The symptoms include nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, fatigue, fever, abdominal cramps, dark urine, light or whitish-colored stool, and jaundice (a yellow color to the eyes or skin). Incubation period is two to six weeks from exposure to symptoms. Persons with questions should contact their personal health care provider or the Marshall County Health Department.

With an outbreak of Hepatitis A in parts of the United States, including West Virginia, the county health departments are offering Hepatitis A vaccinations to High Risk Individuals.

Individuals who are consider High Risk, aged 19 years and older and a West Virginia resident can also receive Hepatitis A vaccination.  The vaccine is being provided by the WVDHHR to assist in vaccination efforts across the state.  Individuals who are at High Risk will be briefly screened by health department staff and those that qualify can receive the vaccine at no cost. High-risk groups include:

  • Persons who use injection or non-injection illicit drugs
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Persons who are homeless or in transient living situations
  • Persons who have been incarcerated
  • Persons with acute or chronic liver disease, including those with hepatitis B virus and/or hepatitis C virus
  • Persons exposed or contact with someone with Hepatitis A
  • Household contact with someone who uses illicit drugs or homeless
  • Persons who provide direct services with people who are homeless or use illicit drugs
  • Persons with ongoing exposure to a group listed above

Prevention:  Thorough handwashing with soap and water after using the toilet and before handling food is the most important factor in preventing spread. Vaccinations are highly effective if received within 14 days of exposure.

Vaccine is available at the Marshall County Health Department, Wetzel/Tyler Health Department and the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department.  For more your county health department or the Marshall County Health Department at (304) 845-7840, Wetzel/Tyler Health Department at (304) 337-2001 or the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department at (304) 234-3682.