November 5, 2018 at 5:44p.m.
By ED RUNYAN
Following the news that an employee of the Taco Bell, 2752 Elm Road, was diagnosed Saturday with hepatitis A, Bob Pinti, Warren deputy health commissioner, says anyone experiencing hepatitis A symptoms who has been to the restaurant should seek medical attention.
Pinti said the Trumbull Regional Medical Center informed the city health department early Saturday of the case, but it had been a long time before that since the last case.
The restaurant has a good track record of performance with food handling and has “been very responsive since finding this out,” Pinti said.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that can affect the liver’s ability to function, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“You’re most likely to get hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with a person or object that’s infected,” the Mayo Clinic says. “Mild cases of hepatitis A don’t require treatment. Most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage.”
Symptoms of hepatitis A are fatigue; sudden nausea and vomiting; abdominal pain or discomfort, especially on the upper right side beneath the lower ribs by the liver; clay-colored bowel movements; loss of appetite; low-grade fever, dark urine; joint pain; yellowing of the skin and the whites of the person’s eyes; and intense itching, the Mayo Clinic says.
“If you experience some of these issues, you should go to the hospital and tell them you ate at Taco Bell on Elm Road,” Pinti said.
The Taco Bell employee diagnosed with hepatitis A was treated, and most of the restaurant’s employees have received the hepatitis A vaccination, Pinti said.
The Mayo Clinic says, “Practicing good hygiene, including washing hands frequently, is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A. Vaccines are available for people most at risk.”
A statement released by the public information office of the Taco Bell Corp. confirmed that the employee worked at the 2752 Elm Road location. It said the restaurant was sanitized after the employee tested positive.
When the restaurant learned of the infection, the owner of the franchise “began immediately working with Taco Bell and local health officials,” the statement said.
“The team member in question is on leave and won’t return to work until cleared by medical professionals,” it says.
“All team members currently working at this restaurant have been offered vaccinations,” the company said. “Additionally, all team members have been offered further training on illness policies and procedures.”
The restaurant was open Monday morning. Officials inside referred questions to the Taco Bell corporate office.
“Ensuring the health and wellbeing of our team members and our customers is our highest priority, which is why we are taking this matter so seriously,” the Taco Bell Corp. statement says.
Randee Showenberger, a registered nurse at the Trumbull County Combined Health District, which handles health matters outside of Warren and Girard, said her agency had one case of hepatitis A in June and one in July that were connected, but there have been very few others in recent years.
She said the two cases over the summer were not restaurant related, but she would not give more specific information about the location.