MSDH: Hattiesburg grocery store employee diagnosed with hepatitis A

MSDH: Hattiesburg grocery store employee diagnosed with hepatitis A
State health officials said an employee at E & B Discount Grocery was diagnosed with the hepatitis A. (Source: Shelby Perez)

JACKSON, Miss. (WDAM) - A worker at a grocery store in Hattiesburg may have exposed customers to hepatitis A, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH).

In a Thursday news release, the department said an employee at E & B Discount Grocery on Old Highway 42 was diagnosed with the infection. While infected, the worker handled fresh produce, and packaged smoked and uncooked meats.

Customers who purchased fresh produce, packaged smoke, and uncooked meats from the store between Oct. 10 and Oct. 24 may have been exposed to the disease.

“The risk of transmission of hepatitis A in this situation is likely very low,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “However, as a precaution, we recommend that anyone who purchased the listed products in this time period should consider getting a hepatitis A vaccination if they have not been previously immunized. The management and staff of E & B Discount Grocery are fully cooperating with MSDH to prevent illnesses as a result of this exposure.”

Health officials said those who think they may be exposed to this disease can receive a free vaccination on Friday, Nov. 1 and Monday, Nov. 4 at the Forrest County Health Department on Old Highway 42.

[Hepatitis outbreak hits Mississippi]

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that causes fever, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), abdominal pain and dark-colored urine. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool (feces) from an infected person. If you think you have symptoms of hepatitis A, you should contact your healthcare provider.

You can prevent the disease from spreading by carefully washing hands with soap and water, including under the fingernails, after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.

For more information on hepatitis A, visit MSDH’s website here.

Public Statement of E&B Discount Grocery concerning recent MS Dept of Health Announcement

E & B Discount Grocery takes the health and safety of our customers and employees very seriously. It came to our attention that a part-time employee was recently diagnosed with hepatitis A, a serious but very treatable condition.

E & B Discount Grocery had no knowledge of this part-time employee’s diagnosis until notified by the Health Department, and indeed there is no way it could have known due to incubation periods and other factors. There were no incidents involving the employee while at work and any rumor to the contrary is false.

E&B owners have conferred with the Health Department and have been assured that there are no additional precautions concerning sale of food which need to be taken by the store.

The risk of transmission by uncooked unwashed food is very low. There is no evidence that suggests any other customers or employees were affected by this condition. As an act of abundance of precaution, the Mississippi Health Department notifies the public of any health risk as a matter of protocol. E&B is fully compliant with all applicable regulations.

Purely out of an abundance of caution, we encourage anyone who shopped with us between October 10, 2019, and October 24, 2019, to visit the Forrest County Health Department to get a free vaccination, particularly those who have compromised immune systems.

Please direct any further health concerns to the Mississippi Department of Health.

We thank you all for your loyalty and understanding.

Copyright 2019 WDAM. All rights reserved.