An employee at Morimoto Asia restaurant at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs complex, Florida, was recently diagnosed with hepatitis A and health officials put out a statement Wednesday asking anyone who had meals or drinks at the outlet to seek immediate medical attention.
“Hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin (IG) may provide protection against the disease if given within two weeks after exposure,” Florida Department of Health (DOH) spokesman Kent Donahue said. “Therefore, those who consumed food or beverage at the restaurant between Nov. 6, 2018, and Nov. 16, 2018, should promptly contact their health care provider to receive vaccination.”
Disney told Channel 9 the company did not own the restaurant, located at 1600 E. Buena Vista Drive, where the disease was reported.
Donahue added that people who might have been exposed to the outbreak but have had hepatitis A or received multiple doses of the vaccine in the past need not get vaccinated again. However, ignoring the warning issued by the health department for restaurant customers susceptible to the virus could lead to development of symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, dark urine, fever and jaundice (that is, the yellowing of skin and eyes).
Customers concerned about possible exposure could contact 877-404-3821 to leave their information and a call-back number. They may call DOH’s epidemiology program at 407-858-1420 for further information.
Uninsured Orange County residents could avail free vaccines for the disease at two locations – 6101 Lake Ellenor Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32809 (for ages 19 and older only), contact (407) 723-5054 for appointment; 832 W. Central Blvd., Orlando, 32805, contact (407) 858-1444 for appointment.
According to the World Health Organization, the incubation period of hepatitis A is usually 14–28 days, during which doctors advise against taking unnecessary medications for fever like acetaminophen or paracetamol and other anti-vomiting over-the-counter drugs. Hospitalization is required in the case of acute liver failure. Ample rest and a balanced diet consisting of liquids (replenishing fluids lost from the body due to diarrhea and vomiting) is required.
Adults are more likely to develop advanced symptoms of the disease than children. Only 10 percent of the children under six years of age develop jaundice after being exposed to the virus.
Hepatitis A is commonly found in developing countries with poor sanitary conditions, where around 90 percent of children are seen to be affected by the virus. However, since people infected by the disease before the age of 10 do not display any symptoms of the infection in their childhood years and become immune to it by the time they become adults, chances of an epidemic in those areas are low.
Orange County has reported an almost 5,000 percent rise in hepatitis A cases in 2018, contrary to the average of 1.4 cases annually for the last five years.