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Publisher’s Platform: Come on Roanoke, you can do better against hepatitis A


The departments have been recommending the vaccines to those in the Roanoke Valley since the rise in cases, including the exposures at Famous Anthony’s, Tuco’s, and Luigi’s.

Nearly one year ago, over 50 people were sickened, at least four died and two required life-saving liver transplants after dining at Famous Anthony’s. Over 30 were hospitalized and many still require medical treatment due to exposure to an ill employee with Hepatitis A.

Seriously, why are not every food service worker in Roanoke vaccinated against Hepatitis A?

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has released an update of yet another hepatitis A exposure case in a Roanoke Valley restaurant, but the risk to the public is low, according to Health Director Cynthia Morrow.

On Friday, the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts said that an employee of Billy’s Restaurant in Roanoke has been infected with hepatitis A.

The departments said they sent the environmental health team to the establishment to investigate, which included interviewing restaurant staff.

The investigation determined that while the employee worked for the infectious period of hepatitis A, from June 20 to July 6, the employee did not handle food, according to the release.

Because of the investigation findings, the VDH said the situation does not meet the criteria to recommend a post-exposure hepatitis A vaccine for patrons of the restaurant.

Cynthia Morrow, the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts Health (RCAHD) Director, said that while the risk to the public is low, the option of the vaccine is still recommended and available to the entire community.

“While we are disappointed to announce another case connected to a current hepatitis A outbreak in our area, we believe this situation is low risk for the public,” said Morrow. “Still, the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all since the current outbreak. Individuals who are uninsured or underinsured are encouraged to reach out to RCAHD local health departments for vaccine opportunities.”

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