ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Following a recent hepatitis A outbreak in the Roanoke Valley tied to the Famous Anthony’s restaurant chain, the Roanoke City Health Department is holding clinics this week to help vaccinate people against the virus.
On Sept. 24, health officials reported that an employee who worked at three different Famous Anthony’s locations tested positive for the highly contagious infection.
The outbreak quickly spread, totaling at least 37 cases of hepatitis A by Friday, Oct. 15, according to the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts. At least 26 of those people ending up in the hospital as of Friday due to the severity of their symptoms.
In addition, Dr. Cynthia Morrow — the director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts — announced on Friday the first death associated with the hepatitis A outbreak. That person was reportedly hospitalized with complications from the infection and had underlying medical conditions.
However, with more cases expected due to hepatitis A’s long incubation period, health officials are taking extra steps to make sure everyone is safe.
The Roanoke City Health Department — located at 1502 Williamson Road — is hosting two hepatitis A vaccine clinics this week. No appointments are necessary, and walk-ins are welcome.
- Thursday, Oct. 21 from 4 to 6 p.m.
- Friday, Oct. 22 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m.
Dr. Morrow says that anyone who is concerned about hepatitis A exposure should get the vaccine, whether that’s through Thursday and Friday’s clinics, through your healthcare provider, or through a local pharmacy.
“It’s really important that if anyone has concerns they should go ahead and get vaccinated. One risk group I didn’t talk about was international travelers,” said Dr. Morrow. “At this point in Virginia, we recommend that everybody who wants to get vaccinated goes ahead and gets vaccinated for hepatitis A. Hepatitis A is a safe and effective vaccine. We certainly encourage people to consider it.”
Exposure to hepatitis A may occur through direct contact with someone who is infected, or by eating or drinking something that is contaminated.
According to health officials, anyone who visited any of the following Famous Anthony’s locations between Aug. 10 and Aug. 27 could have been exposed:
- 4913 Grandin Road
- 6499 Williamson Road
- 2221 Crystal Spring Avenue
If you visited any of those three restaurant locations between Aug. 10 and Aug. 27, you are urged to seek medical attention if you develop the following symptoms:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or the eyes)
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Light-colored stools
Health experts say symptoms may develop 15 to 50 days after exposure. If you have any of these symptoms, you are urged to stay home from work, especially if you work in food service, healthcare, or childcare.
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