Worker at Zaxby's in Ocala tests positive for hepatitis A

Customers who visited restaurant urged to get vaccinated

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor
CDC via CNN

A microscopic image of the Hepatitis A virus, taken by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

MARION COUNTY, Fla. - A person who works at a Zaxby's in Ocala has tested positive for hepatitis A, which prompted the Florida Department of Health in Marion County to issue an alert.

The employee was infectious between May 13 and Sunday while working at the fast food restaurant at 6033 SW Highway 200.

Anyone who ate or drank at the eatery during that time frame is urged to vaccinated immediately if they have not already done so. 

Officials from the restaurant released a statement.

Ritzy Chickies, LLC dba Zaxby's recently learned that a team member of our Zaxby's restaurant located at 6033 SW Hwy 200 in Ocala, Florida was diagnosed with Hepatitis A. To ensure the safety and wellbeing of guests and team members we are working directly with the Florida Department of Health throughout this situation. All food handlers wear gloves, making the risk of transmission by the affected team member extremely low. Following notice of the team member's diagnosis, we thoroughly sanitized the restaurant. In addition, all team members working in the restaurant were vaccinated the following morning.
 
Ritzy Chickies, LLC dba Zaxby's takes this situation seriously and will continue to follow all recommendations from the Florida Department of Health during this on-going Hepatitis A outbreak occurring across the region and the state. We encourage guests to contact us at 866-8-ZAXBYS (866-892-9297) with questions or concerns.

Free hepatitis A vaccines are being offered at the Department of Health in Marion County to anyone potentially impacted. Vaccinations are available at 1801 SE 32nd Ave., from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Symptoms of infection include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing skin and whites of eyes) 
  • Fever 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Dark-colored urine 
  • Pale or clay-colored stool

Officials say vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis A infection. They also suggest practicing good hand hygiene, which includes thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers and before preparing or eating food.

In April, the Department of Health in Marion County urged residents to get vaccinated because 44 new cases were reported since the beginning of the year.

People at most risk for infection who should get vaccinated include:

  • All children at age 1 year 
  • People who are experiencing homelessness 
  • Users of recreational drugs, whether injected or not 
  • Men who have sexual encounters with other men 
  • People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A 
  • Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common 
  • People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C 
  • People with clotting-factor disorders 
  • Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common

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