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Austin Whataburger Employee Tests Positive For Hepatitis A

Updated: Friday, August 22 2014, 05:12 PM CDT

There is a health alert for Whataburger customers, particularly those who visit the store on Guadalupe in Central Austin.  The health department says a food handler there has Hepatitis A.  Some people may not even know if they're infected and that's because the symptoms don't show up for two to six weeks.  They usually appear around four weeks.  That means if someone was infected, they wouldn't know until early September.

This is why you see signs in every restaurant requiring employees to wash their hands before returning to work.

Whataburger customer Shannon Price was worried. "That is really scary because I don't want to catch anything that could make me sick," she said.

Dr. Phil Huang from the Austin Travis County Health and Human Services department says Hepatitis A can definitely make you sick.  "The symptoms are fever tiredness abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and then jaundice when the eyes or skin become yellow," he says.

The disease is typically spread by ingesting contaminated food or water.   That's why hand washing for food handlers is so critical.  Price used to work at another Whataburger and says sanitation was taken seriously.  "You just have to make sure you're washing your hands constantly and we were washing our hands like all of the time," she says.

Whataburger echoed that sentiment.  In a statement the company told KEYE TV, "We remain committed to a safe and clean dining experience for our employees and customers, and we have taken several precautionary measures, including providing all of our team members who work at this restaurant a Hepatitis A vaccine at Whataburger's expense."

Dr. Huang says the risk of transmission is low.  There are people who are more at risk and should see their doctor. "Those patients that may be 75 years of age or older, that have immune compromised or have liver disease definitely contact their health professional," Dr. Huang explained. 

Whataburger has set up a number for anyone to call if they have questions.  The number is 844-569-5555.

By Melanie Lofton

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Austin Whataburger Employee Tests Positive For Hepatitis A

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