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Roanoke patient connected to hepatitis-A outbreak dies

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 11:17 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - UPDATE: Famous Anthony’s released a statement Friday regarding the cases:

“Since 1986, Famous Anthony’s restaurants have been committed to providing affordable quality meals to their guests. The management and ownership have always strived to treat their many loyal customers and staff like family.

Upon notification of a possible Hepatitis A exposure at three of its establishments during the dates of August 10, 2021 to August 27, 2021, Famous Anthony’s has cooperated fully with the Roanoke and Alleghany Health Districts. Famous Anthony’s has provided a safe environment for customers and workers for 35 years, and it continues to work with health officials and comply with any recommendations given to it by the appropriate authorities to ensure the continued safe operation of all of its current locations.

As Famous Anthony’s continues its investigation, it wishes to express that it is mindful of the impact this unforeseen event has and continues to have on individuals and families in this community. Additionally, Famous Anthony’s offers its heartfelt concern and sympathy for all those affected.”

EARLIER STORY: An adult who was hospitalized with complications from hepatitis-A has died, according to the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts. The patient had underlying medical conditions. The person’s name will not be released “to protect privacy and out of respect for the patient’s family,” according to RCAHD.

This is the first reported death associated with a recent outbreak of hepatitis A traced to an employee of Famous Anthony’s restaurants.

There is no ongoing concern about eating at Famous Anthony’s restaurant locations, said Dr. Cynthia Morrow with the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts in September, saying the exposure period has passed.

“My heart goes out to the family and friends of this individual,” said Morrow. “Hepatitis A virus typically causes self-limited inflammation of the liver. However, in this outbreak, we have seen a high rate of severe disease.”

RCAHD has identified 37 confirmed cases, including 26 hospitalizations.

Anyone who visited any of the following Famous Anthony’s locations -- 4913 Grandin Road, 6499 Williamson Road or 2221 Crystal Spring Ave. -- from August 10 through 27 only, is urged to seek medical attention if they develop any of the following symptoms:

· jaundice: yellowing of the skin or the eyes

· fever

· fatigue

· loss of appetite

· nausea

· vomiting

· abdominal pain

· dark urine

· light-colored stools

RCAHD says it is also important for people with symptoms to stay home from work, especially if they work in food service, health care, or childcare.

In a statement, RCAHD says:

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease. The hepatitis A vaccine is specifically recommended for children, for travelers to certain countries, and for people at high risk for infection with the virus, however, since Virginia is experiencing multi-year widespread outbreaks of hepatitis A, vaccination is recommended for everyone.

Anyone who is not vaccinated against hepatitis A is encouraged to get the vaccine, which is currently available from many healthcare providers and local pharmacies. The Roanoke City Health Department located at 1502 Williamson Rd, 24012, will offer hepatitis A vaccine on Thursday, October 21, 2021 from 4-6pm and on Friday, October 22 from 8:30-11:30am and 1-4pm. No appointment necessary, walk-ins welcome.

Exposure to hepatitis A virus may occur through direct contact with an infected person or by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated. Symptoms may develop 15 to 50 days following exposure. People are at increased risk if they have been in close and continuous contact with an infected person, particularly in a household or day care setting.

Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.

Click here for more information.

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