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Health officials investigate possible hepatitis A exposure at Gumbo Pot

JACKSON — The Mississippi State Department of Health announced Friday it is investigating a case of hepatitis A in a Warren County restaurant employee which may have led to possible exposure for customers.

An employee of the Gumbo Pot, 3401 Halls Ferry Road, has been diagnosed with hepatitis A infection.

While infectious, the employee worked at the restaurant on Jan. 17, 18 and 22. Customers who ate at the restaurant on those days might have been exposed to hepatitis A.

Gumbo Pot owner Perry Boyd said Friday afternoon that health department officials were at the restaurant Friday and gave the restaurant an A rating.

“The employee worked on Jan. 17 and Jan. 18 but did not show any signs of being sick,” Boyd said. “When the employee came back to work on Jan. 22, she was sick and we sent them home. It was then they went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with hepatitis A. They have not been back to work since then.”

Boyd was told the public would be notified Friday by the state but wanted to make sure the public also knew the restaurant had been cleared and given the highest rating.

MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said the management and staff of the Gumbo Pot are fully cooperating with MSDH to prevent illnesses as a result of this exposure. 

Vaccination can prevent hepatitis A only if given within 14 days of exposure. Because those who ate at the restaurant on Jan. 17 and 18 would have been exposed more than 14 days ago, they should watch for any possible symptoms of hepatitis A and see their doctor if they become ill. Those who ate at the restaurant on Jan. 22 should get the hepatitis A vaccination if they have not been previously vaccinated.

Those who think they may have been exposed to this case can receive a hepatitis A vaccination free of charge from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 3 and Tuesday, Feb. 4 at the Warren County Health Department, 807 Monroe St. 

“The risk of transmission of hepatitis A in this situation is likely very low,” Byers said. “However, as a precaution, we recommend that anyone who ate food from this restaurant on Jan. 22 should consider getting a hepatitis A vaccination if they have not done so already. And again, those who may have been exposed on Jan. 17 and 18 should watch for any possible symptoms of hepatitis A and see their doctor if become ill.”

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that causes fever, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), abdominal pain and dark-colored urine.

Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool (feces) from an infected person. If you think you have symptoms of hepatitis A, you should contact your healthcare provider.

Follow information about the current hepatitis A outbreak in Mississippi at HealthyMS.com/HepA.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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