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Hep A case at senior center & pizza place

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SALYERSVILLE – Another food service worker has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A, with the person working at the senior center last week while still contagious.

Salyersville Mayor and Magoffin County Health Department Director James “Pete” Shepherd told the Independent on Wednesday that a hospital contacted him on Monday this week regarding a case of Hepatitis A concerning someone who works at the Magoffin County Senior Citizens Center and Pizza-N-More.

The person reportedly has been sick since November 7 and was diagnosed on November 21, though she worked prior to and for a time period after being diagnosed, including working during the Thanksgiving party held at the senior center.

Shepherd explained that both the senior center and Pizza-N-More are in excellent standing with the health department, both handily passing their inspections and following all protocol. 

“Pizza-N-More is one of the cleanest places in town and all of their employees have been trained and were doing what they were supposed to be doing, wearing gloves and washing hands-, so there’s very little chances of it spreading from this,” Shepherd said.

Marlene Howard, the program director for the Magoffin County Senior Citizens, said they clean with bleach daily, but since they were notified, they’ve cleaned everything, again, and are following all procedures required. She said they have notified Big Sandy Area Development District and the Department of Aging and Independent living and are doing everything they are supposed to do.

Elizabeth Hamilton, the co-director of aging services with Big Sandy ADD, said in a release, “After being notified by the staff person involved, we contacted the Magoffin Co. Health Department.  The Environmentalist, Patrick Boyd, came to the center to discuss the actions to take regarding this issue. We have cleaned the entire center with Clorox.  All staff have received training on standard precautions (hand washing) and will be receiving the Hepatitis A vaccine. All participants have been informed and advised to visit their personal physician if they have any questions or issues regarding Hepatitis A.”

Similarly, Dustin Howard, the owner of Pizza-N-More, also released a statement:

“We are working closely with local health officials, have been inspected and cleaned for continuing food service. We have always maintained a 98-100 percent score on all health inspections. Our food is cooked at temperatures of over 500 degrees for 1.5 to 3.5 minutes. Hep A virus is killed at 185 degrees for one minute. We feel there is little to no concern of transmission from our establishment. 

“The person infected is no longer our employee and only worked for about 20 hours of training. This person was never head cook, always practiced safe handwashing and wore gloves. ALL our employees follow strict handwashing procedures and other cleanliness practices. We will be implementing a new policy that states all employees will have to be vaccinated before working for us. 

“We hope the public will understand that this is in no way our fault as a result of bad hygiene practices at our restaurant. We hope to continue being able to serve you in the future. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Thanks for your continued support and special thanks to our local health department and Mayor Pete Shepherd for all their help in resolving this issue.”

Due to the large outbreak throughout the state, the Department for Public Health is now recommending all people (over one year of age) to receive the Hepatitis A vaccine.

This makes the 49th case of Hepatitis A reported during the current outbreak.

Shepherd explained that the vaccine is effective after someone has come in contact with the virus, so if someone thinks they may have been exposed, such as eating at one of the restaurants that have reported a worker with Hepatitis A, that person can get the vaccine as much as two weeks after exposure to be protected.

The Magoffin County Health Department is now offering the Hepatitis A vaccine (which comes in two rounds). While it is covered by most insurances, including Medicaid, uninsured people can get the shots by only paying the health department’s cost for the vaccine. Each shot costs $40, so it would be $80 for both rounds of the vaccine. 
Shepherd also emphasized the importance of handwashing in preventing the virus.

“You just need good personal hygiene, wash your hands and produce off good,” Shepherd said. “Even if someone has the virus working in a restaurant, as long as they handle the food properly, you’re not at risk.”

Hepatitis A virus can spread by eating food handled by someone with the virus who did not properly wash his or her hands, drinking contaminated water, being in close contact with an infected person and by having sexual contact with someone with the virus. 

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