Pizza restaurant food handler tests positive for hepatitis A

Posted at 8:03 PM, Aug 01, 2013

ST. GEORGE, Utah – The Southwest Utah Public Health Department is working to identify customers who ate at a pizza restaurant on certain dates after they learned an employee tested positive for hepatitis A.

“It’s a rare case to have this happen,” said Emergency Preparedness Specialist Jordan Bastian. “But it has us a little concerned.”

According to the SWUPHD, a food handler at the Pizza Factory located at Ancestor Square tested positive for hepatitis A.

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department said it’s the first case they’ve seen in several years. Hepatitis A is commonly passed through unsanitary conditions, which is why it was a surprise to find it at The Pizza Factory.

“The Ancestor Square Pizza Factory does a very good job at keeping their restaurant clean,” Bastian said. “They are very good at passing their inspections that go throughout the health department.”

Health officials are asking customers who ate at the restaurant during the following times to contact them by calling 435-673-3528 or visiting 620 S 400 E.

• July 19 (Fri.):   6-9:30 p.m.

• July 20 (Sat.):  6-9:30 p.m.

• July 23 (Tue.): 5-9:00 p.m.

• July 26 (Fri.):   6-9:30 p.m.

• July 27 (Sat.):  5-9:30 p.m.

Hepatitis A can cause jaundice (which is a yellowing of the eyes and skin), fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and a fever. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should contact a doctor.

No other Pizza Factory restaurants are affected by the hepatitis A exposure. Restaurant owner Bill Randall said the employee didn’t even know he’d contracted the disease. It wasn’t until after he’d quit to leave on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that the employee began showing symptoms.

“We don’t know where he contracted the virus,” Randall said. “We know it wasn’t here.”

Randall said everyone at The Pizza Factory has now had the hepatitis A vaccine. So far, no other cases have been reported and Randall said they hope there won’t be any. The restaurant remains open for business.

“We don’t anticipate anything, but that’s not a chance we’re willing to take,” Randall said. “That’s why we have to be public about it.”

Getting vaccinated is the best way for people to prevent hepatitis A. The immunization clinic, 620 S. 400 E., is open for walk-ins Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and every other Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The vaccine is $48 if not covered by insurance, and those seeking to get vaccinated will need to bring their immunization records, picture ID and insurance card to the clinic.

Click here for more information from the SWUPHD’s website.