Detroit health officials are warning customers at two Detroit restaurants about possible hepatitis A exposure. The first case involves an employee at Firewater Bar and Grill at 6521 John R. St. in New Center and a second case is connected with a crew member at a Little Caesars Pizza near Littlefield in Northwest Detroit.
Hepatitis A is a contagious viral infection that can cause liver damage and other health issues. It’s transmitted through contaminated food and water and person-to-person contact.
The Detroit Health Department is recommending that people who ate or drank at Firewater Bar and Grill between October 15 and October 24 or who visited the Little Caesars at at 12712 Fenkell Ave. between October 15 and October 26 contact their primary care doctor and receive a vaccination.
Free hepatitis A vaccinations are also available at the The Samaritan Center (5555 Conner St.) and The Family Place (8726 Woodward Ave.). Vaccinations should be acquired before November 7.
Symptoms generally appear two to six weeks after exposure and can last for several months. Signs of hepatitis A include fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.
Both individuals stopped work immediately once they tested positive for the infection and the restaurants have been cooperative with health officials. The Detroit Health Department is currently conducting investigations at both establishments to make sure that the necessary food handling and cleaning protocols are being followed.
Southeast Michigan is currently experiencing an above average number of hepatitis A infections — 457 cases since August 2016. The outbreak so far has resulted in 370 hospitalizations and 18 deaths, according to recent data from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services. In most cases, “transmission appears to be through direct person-to-person spread and illicit drug use.”
It’s relatively rare for workers in the food service industry to transmit hepatitis A. However, outbreaks have been tied to restaurants in the past. Frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom and before handling food can help prevent the spread of the virus. Properly cooking foods and freezing can also help prevent infection.
• Detroit Health Department Investigating Two Separate Hepatitis A Cases at Firewater Bar and Grill and Little Caesars Pizza [Detroit Health Department]
• All DOH Coverage [ED]