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Montana salad bar possibly served hepatitis A to customers for almost an entire month

Hepatitus A

(NaturalNews) An unknown number of residents living in Missoula, Montana, may have been exposed to Hepatitis A, a viral liver disease that may result in mild to severe illness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The possible transmission may have occurred due to an infected employee who was tending a salad bar at a restaurant called Good Food Store. The employee is reported to have prepared foods at the restaurant, which is a self-serve salad bar.

While the worker went on sick leave once symptoms arose, health authorities are warning customers that they could be at risk, because the disease is considered highly infectious even before symptoms become noticeable.

Customers in Montana may have been exposed to Hepatitis A through a self-serve salad bar

"While the food service employee was excluded from work during most of the time that they had symptoms, there is a potential for customer exposure because Hepatitis A can be spread before a person has symptoms — before they know they are infectious or ill," said the Missoula City-County Health Department.

Anyone who ate at the Good Food Store salad bar between August 15 and September 13 could have been exposed to the virus, the department said.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A include "fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, joint pain, abdominal cramping, jaundice and clay-colored stools," reports Food Safety News.

Anyone with symptoms is encouraged to contact the health department at 406-258-3896, or see their healthcare provider right away.

The Good Food Store said that it followed proper protocol regarding sick employees, and that is "has excellent policies, practices, and facilities for food handling and hand washing."

"We appreciate the Good Food Store's cooperation and transparency on this matter and their efforts to mitigate any risk to public health," said the health department. "At this time there are no other known cases of Hepatitis A in Missoula and we will update the public as more information becomes available."

According to the WHO, Hepatitis A does not cause chronic liver disease like Hepatitis B and C do; however, it can result in debilitating symptoms and acute liver failure, which is often fatal.

Accidental exposure to blood-borne illnesses is not uncommon

It is not uncommon for people to be unwittingly exposed to harmful diseases. In February, nearly 300 patients at Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, Massachusetts, were possibly exposed to several blood-borne diseases, including HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, after medical staff failed to properly disinfect instrumentation used during a procedure.

Medical workers say colonoscopes, the devices used in colonoscopies, are complex and difficult to clean because they contain multiple components. Yet, the devices are reused for colonoscopies, as well as for other medical procedures.

A separate but similar incident occurred at an Atlanta hospital, where 450 patients were potentially exposed to harmful diseases from unsanitized colonoscopes. Another case occurred in Seattle, Washington, where 35 people did in fact become infected from colonoscopy procedures.





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