The Indiana State Department of Health says people who ate prepared food from the Casey’s General Store in Centerville earlier this month may have been exposed to hepatitis A.
An employee who works at the store on East Main Street recently tested positive for the highly-contagious liver infection.
The agency recommends those who ate at that Casey’s between July 5 and July 12 receive a vaccine no later than July 26 to help prevent illness.
Kimberly Flanigan is a charge nurse with the Wayne County Health Department. She says the vaccine provides a certain level of immediate protection.
“We know that although this vaccine is a two-dose series, even after receiving one dose, you build up immunity protection for about 94 percent,” she says.
The state is working with the Wayne County Health Department to make additional vaccines available for those exposed. The health department plans to offer them from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 19. They’ll be offered free of charge.
Flanigan says it’s important for people not to panic when they hear about a hepatitis A case locally.
“We have environmentalists that do inspections in those restaurants, they’re always doing education,” she says. “And even if we talk about the one establishment, Casey’s, that has this outbreak, they’re doing everything right at this time.”
Hepatitis A is highly contagious because it’s spread through fecal-oral means. Someone can contract the virus through contact with an infected person or by consuming contaminated food or drink.
It can take up to 50 days for symptoms to appear.
Indiana is part of a multi-state hepatitis A outbreak. The state usually sees an average of 20 cases a year, but ISDH says there are 220 cases associated with the outbreak. Nearly half of them have resulted in hospitalizations, and one person has died.