Possible hepatitis A exposure at Hattiesburg grocery

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(Information provided by the Mississippi State Department of Health)

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is investigating a case of hepatitis A in a grocery store employee that may have led to possible exposure for customers.

An employee of E & B Discount Grocery on 5395 Old Highway 42 in Hattiesburg, Miss., has been diagnosed with hepatitis A infection. While in the infectious period of hepatitis A, the employee handled fresh produce, and packaged smoked and uncooked meats. Customers who purchased fresh produce, and packaged smoked and uncooked meats at the grocery between October 10 and October 24, 2019 may have been exposed to hepatitis A.

The risk of transmission of hepatitis A in this situation is likely very low. However, as a precaution, we recommend that anyone who purchased the listed products in this time period should consider getting a hepatitis A vaccination if they have not been previously immunized, said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. The management and staff of E & B Discount Grocery are fully cooperating with MSDH to prevent illnesses as a result of this exposure.

Those who think they may have been exposed to this case can receive a hepatitis A vaccination free of charge on Friday, November 1, and Monday, November 4, 2019, at the Forrest County Health Department, 5008 Old Highway 42 in Hattiesburg.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that causes fever, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), abdominal pain and dark colored urine. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool (feces) from an infected person. If you think you have symptoms of hepatitis A, you should contact your healthcare provider.

Everyone can prevent the spread of hepatitis A by carefully washing hands with soap and water, including under the fingernails, after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.

As a reminder, there is an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in Mississippi and surrounding states affecting those who use drugs, those who are in jail or were recently in jail, those with unstable housing or who are homeless, and men who have sex with men. The MSDH continues to recommend hepatitis A vaccination for those specific groups as well.

Follow information about the current hepatitis A outbreak in Mississippi atHealthyMS.com/HepA.

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