Papa John's Hepatitis A scare sparks investigation
NEW YORK - A Papa John’s Pizza restaurant in Mississippi is at the center of an investigation by the state's health department after it was revealed that an employee may have exposed scores of customers to hepatitis A.
On Wednesday, the Mississippi State Department of Health said an employee at the company's Horn Lake location on Goodman Road worked for a roughly two-week span from Jan 28. to Feb. 11 while infected with the highly contagious liver infection.
Customers who ate at the quick-service restaurant or received a pizza delivery between those dates are urged to keep a close eye on their health as they may have been exposed.
Although the department says the likelihood that the virus has been transmitted is “very low," they are issuing a warning to consumers as a precaution.
Hepatitis A virus (picornavirus). HAV causes a hepatitis that is almost always benign. Image made from transmission electron microscopy. Approximate viral diameter: 30 nm. (Photo by: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
As a precaution, customers who ate at the restaurant or had pizza delivered between Feb. 6 to Feb. 11 are urged to get a hepatitis A vaccination if they have not been previously vaccinated. Vaccinations can prevent hepatitis A only if given within 14 days of exposure.
However, those who ate at the restaurant or received a pizza delivery between Jan. 28 and Feb. 5, more than 14 days ago, should watch for any possible symptoms of hepatitis A and see their doctor if they feel sick, the department said.
The DeSoto County Health Department is also offering free vaccination services to those who think they may have been exposed.
“The management and staff of the Papa John’s are fully cooperating with MSDH to prevent illnesses as a result of this exposure,” MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said.
Papa John's did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.
The investigation comes amid an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in Mississippi and surrounding states, according to the health department. The spread of hepatitis A can be prevented by carefully washing hands with soap and water, which includes under the fingernails.