ROANOKE, Va. – A possible hepatitis A exposure at Tuco’s in downtown Roanoke is just the most recent in a string of instances that the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts have warned about.
“Whenever we identify someone who has hepatitis A, the first question we ask is, ‘Where do you work?’” said RCAHD Health Director Dr. Cynthia Morrow.
Last week, the health department gave the same warning about a possible exposure at Luigi’s Gourmet Italian Restaurant in Roanoke. Both establishments had an employee who is infected.
“Recently, unfortunately, two individuals who were reported as having hepatitis A, reported working in restaurants,” Morrow added.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus and can be spread through close, person-to-person contact, sharing needles or eating food that has been contaminated.
“Either a contaminated product or during the preparation of a product somebody who has the infection does not wash their hands properly and its transmitted to other people,” said Dr. Muddasar Chaudry, medical director of infectious diseases at LewisGale Medical Center.
In the case of both Tuco’s and Luigi’s, the health department does not think there’s a major cause for concern but rather wants to inform the community about the possibility of exposure.
“We believe that the likelihood of contamination is extremely low. We believe that they followed policy. We believe that the two facilities that were involved have very good policies in place to protect the consumer,” added Morrow.
Morrow said that getting the hepatitis A vaccine within two weeks after exposure can be protective and is considered a preventative measure.
The health department is offering a hepatitis A vaccine to anyone who ate at Tuco’s between May 3 and May 15. Vaccines will be available on a first-come, first-served basis on the second floor at 1502 Williamson Road at the following times:
- Thursday, May 26, 3-6 p.m.
- Friday, May 27, 8:30-11:30 a.m.
- Friday, May 27, 1-4 p.m.