UPDATE 2:12 p.m.: The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts have shared an update on the public health situation in southwest Virginia, providing the latest details on both the coronavirus pandemic and hepatitis A.

On Friday, May 13, the health districts say they were notified about a case of hepatitis A involving a person who worked in a Roanoke restaurant.

The health districts’ director, Dr. Cynthia Morrow, says the person who contracted the virus worked at Luigi’s Restaurant, but did not handle the food at any time.

According to Morrow, health officials have not identified anyone who has gotten sick from eating at the restaurant. As a result, they believe this hepatitis A case does not pose a threat to the public.

As of Tuesday, May 17, the health districts say there are 56 confirmed hepatitis A cases in the Roanoke Valley and Alleghany Highlands. Even though these cases are not connected to any restaurant, officials say this number is very significant.

Morrow tells WFXR News that substance use disorder, specifically injection drug use, is the most commonly
identified risk factor in this outbreak. More specifically, 80% of these hepatitis A cases — the bulk of which are in Roanoke City — are associated with substance abuse.

According to health officials, these cases are preventable if people practice good hygiene and get vaccinated against hepatitis A.

In fact, following Tuesday’s news conference, the health districts announced that there will be multiple hepatitis A testing events in Roanoke on Thursday, May 19, which are described in the flyer below:

(Photo courtesy: Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts)

This news comes as hepatitis A continues to be a growing concern around the country, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting more than 44,000 cases from 37 states since the outbreaks were first identified in 2016.

The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts shared the latest data about hepatitis A, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, on Tuesday afternoon:

You can also watch Morrow’s full Tuesday briefing below:

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Dr. Cynthia Morrow, the director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, updated the community Tuesday morning on current public health concerns, including the coronavirus pandemic.

This virtual news conference on Tuesday, May 17 comes after the health districts reported increasing local COVID-19 activity on Tuesday, May 10, with higher case counts and more COVID-19 related hospitalizations reported that week.

Health officials told WFXR News at the time that these numbers were expected to keep rising over the next several weeks since the most recent and more contagious omicron variants comprise more than 99% of cases in the region. 

You can check out the health districts’ update from May 10 below:

“As COVID-19 continues to impact our communities, it is an important reminder we can all do our part in reducing transmission by staying up-to-date on our vaccines, staying home while we are ill with COVID-19, and quarantining when we are exposed to this infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Morrow said in a statement on May 10.