Medical professionals discuss risk of hepatitis A spreading during Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An employee of a Louisville White Castle has been diagnosed with hepatitis A, as the outbreak in Kentucky continues.

According to a news release from the Louisville Metro office of Public Health and Wellness, the employee worked at the White Castle located at 3701 Seventh Street Road, near Berry Boulevard. As a result, the health department says customers who ate at that restaurant from April 6 to April 20 may have been exposed to the virus.

Symptoms of the virus include fatigue, decreased appetite, stomach pain, nausea, darkened urine, pale stools and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). People can become ill 15-20 days after being exposed to the virus.

"The best ways to prevent hepatitis A infection are to get vaccinated and to practice good handwashing," said Dr. Lori Caloia medical director. "Washing your hands thoroughly and often with warm water and soap, especially before preparing meals or eating, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper is a proven way to prevent the spread of diseases. Hand sanitizer is not as effective as hand washing against hepatitis A."

White Castle regional director for restaurant operations Shawna Jones released a statement that said the family-owned business keeps safety as the number one concern for employees and patrons.

"We have moved quickly to cooperate with the local health department to rigorously follow all steps the health department recommends. To exercise an abundance of caution and prevention, White Castle is providing vaccinations for all White Castle team members who might have been affected by our team member’s illness," said Jones. 

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