Amid a hepatitis A outbreak, health concerns loom ahead of Thund - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Amid a hepatitis A outbreak, health concerns loom ahead of Thunder Over Louisville

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In recent weeks, Louisville has had an outbreak of hepatitis A with several cases coming from restaurants.

And as dozens of food vendors fill Waterfront Park for Thunder Over Louisville and the Chow Wagon, the Louisville Metro Health Department is making sure there are ample hand-washing stations. With the help of the Kentucky Derby Festivals, the health department is ensuring there are nearly triple the amount of stations than in previous years.

"We want to make sure all the attendees are safe and have the opportunity to wash their hands to not spread the illness," said Matt Rhodes with the Louisville Metro Health Department.

The health department also encourages food vendors to have all employees vaccinated for hepatitis A prior to coming to Louisville.

Peggy Colp, who owns Ms. Peggy's Food Service and has been a part of serving Thunder Over Louisville and Chow Wagon guests for about 25 years, said employees who are handling food are her top priority.

"As many people as we serve on a daily basis down here, if you're not up to code on everything health-wise and cleaning wise, then you get one sick, it's just an epidemic all the way around," Colp said.

Colp said her employees wash their hands thousands of times a day.

"You wash your hands, then you wear the gloves. Then you handle something food-wise, then you go out in public, you take those gloves off," Colp said of the tedious task. "Then wash your hands again, and put your gloves back on."

Judy Fleming owns a food vendor service with her sister and agrees with Colp. She said her food truck has come to the waterfront for the event for 13 years and never could she imagine having to deal with a virus like hepatitis A.

"Washing your hands is probably one of the biggest priorities for anybody in any business that concerns food," she said.

She said along with washing their hands, she and her employees clean every square inch of their truck inside and out to make sure there is no chance of getting anyone sick.

The health department will begin inspecting food vendors Saturday morning. If a vendor fails the inspection, he or she will be shut down.

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