Arkansas State University was notified Wednesday (Oct. 24) by its food service provider, Sodexo, that one of its workers reported testing positive for the Hepatitis A virus, according to the school. At the recommendation of the Arkansas Department of Health, anyone who ate at the Acansa Dining Hall in the Reng Student Center from Oct. 13 to Oct. 24 should seek a vaccination immediately if they have never been vaccinated against Hep A or are unsure of their vaccination status.
After the report yesterday, university officials conferred with Sodexo to review its procedures for handling this type of situation. Sodexo safety officials have inspected all areas, and per the guidelines, have sanitized all areas.
Those concerned are encouraged to get a vaccination at the Craighead County Health Department today, on Friday (Oct. 26) during their regular hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Health Department is located at 611 E. Washington Street in Jonesboro.
ASU will also host the Craighead County Health Department on Monday (Oct. 29) and Tuesday (Oct. 30) for students, faculty or staff who wish to receive the Hep A vaccination. The clinic will be conducted from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Reng Student Center on the third floor in the Arkansas River Room located behind the Multicultural Center.
Anyone experiencing symptoms should seek care immediately. Typical symptoms of hep A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), according to the Arkansas Department of Health. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.
Risk of getting hep A in a food service setting is low, according to ADH. Restaurants must follow ADH protocols for handwashing and glove use, and employees are not to return to work until they are no longer sick. Hep A is being spread in this outbreak primarily through close contacts in the community, not through eating at restaurants.
Since February, 178 cases of hep A have been reported as part of an outbreak in Northeast Arkansas, including one death. Greene County has had the most cases, although there have been cases in Arkansas, Clay, Cleburne, Craighead, Independence, Lawrence, Lee, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett, and Randolph counties, ADH reported.