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800 Degrees customers urged to get hepatitis vaccine

FORT WAYNE – A free, drive-through clinic will be offered Saturday and Sunday after a food worker at the 800 Degrees Three Fires restaurant on Illinois Road tested positive for hepatitis A, county health officials said.

The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health urges anyone who ate or drank food from the restaurant between May 18 and May 26, and who has not already been vaccinated for hepatitis A, to get the vaccination.

The vaccine will be provided at the Southwest Allen County Schools Transportation Center, 4814 Homestead Road, at the following times:

  • Saturday, noon to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Health officials said the clinic might be moved indoors if weather becomes a problem.

Children younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, the health officials said.

The health department said it has established an information line at (260) 449-4499 to provide answers to common questions about the hepatitis A vaccination clinics.

The phone line will be staffed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. At other times callers may hear a prerecorded message.

The vaccinations are a "precautionary measure," said county Health Commissioner Deborah McMahan, adding, "Those who are having symptoms of the illness should not come to the vaccination clinic but should seek medical attention."

Those who ate at the restaurant in the days just prior to May 18 will not benefit from the vaccination, health officials said, but should monitor themselves for symptoms of hepatitis A.

Symptoms can include fatigue, fever, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea and jaundice. Health officials said anyone experiencing symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus, attacking the liver. Once infected, a person is capable of passing the virus for about two weeks before becoming ill until 10 days after symptoms begin, according to a statement issued by the health department.

There is no specific treatment once symptoms appear, but a vaccination can help lessen the effects of the disease if given within 14 days of exposure, the statement said.

The department said it received laboratory confirmation Friday of the positive hepatitis A case in one food worker at the restaurant, located at 5125 Illinois Road, near Interstate 69.

The person last worked at the restaurant May 26. The health department said none of the other employees have hepatitis A symptoms, and so far, no other cases have been identified.

Managers at 800 Degrees are working with local and state health officials in the current investigation, and the health department said the establishment remains open for business.

McMahan said the best way to control the spread of hepatitis A and many other illnesses is through proper hand washing, especially after using the restroom, changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food.

Health officials said hand washing should include 20 seconds of vigorous soaping of all parts of the hands, especially between fingers and under fingernails.

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