GHENT, W.Va. — The Beckley-Raleigh County Health Department announced on Thursday that a second case of a food service worker infected with Hepatitis A has been confirmed, following the announcement earlier this month that an employee of Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen in Beckley was infected with the disease.
The latest incident occurred at Ghent Elementary School, south of Beckley. The health department said anyone who consumed food at the school between Oct. 21st and Nov. 9th should consider getting the Hepatitis A vaccine, not more than two weeks from the potential exposure. Inspectors were on-site at the school interviewing employees and reviewing food handling procedures. The Raleigh County Board of Education ordered that the entire building be sanitized.
The announcement came less than 24 hours after health officials reported a spike in Hepatitis A cases in Raleigh County over the last three weeks. On October 19th, the Department of Health and Human Services database reported a total of 45 cases in the county. As of November 9th, that number had increased to 74 cases. DHHR officials attributed the outbreak primarily to IV and non-IV drug users. None of the cases appeared to be related to the infected Cheddar’s employee.
The Beckley-Raleigh County Health Department will be administering the Hepatitis A vaccine on Nov. 16th and 17th to anyone who may have been infected at Ghent Elementary, as a result of consuming food. It can take up to 50 days after being exposed to the virus for someone to become ill, but most people experience symptoms within 28 to 30 days after being exposed.
Health officials emphasized that the probability of contracting Hepatitis A by eating food that was handled by an infected person was generally considered to be low.