For the second day in a row, Clermont County Public Health has identified a case of hepatitis A in an employee of a Clermont County restaurant. The latest is an employee of the McDonald’s at 625 W. Plane Street in Bethel.

Hepatitis A is one of several diseases in which a restaurant or other food facility is required by law to report to their local health department if it is discovered in one of their employees. The restaurant remains open while the employee is off recovering from the illness.

The risk to patrons is extremely low. However, as a precaution, Clermont County Public Health is asking anyone who has eaten at the McDonald’s in Bethel from Dec. 16-29 to monitor for symptoms of the virus for up to 50 days.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include:

• Fatigue;
• Low appetite;
• Stomach pain;
• Nausea;
• Clay-colored stools; and
• Jaundice (yellowish color to the skin and eyes).

The disease, which affects the liver, can be spread through eating or drinking contaminated food. Food can get contaminated if a person who has the virus does not wash their hands properly after using the bathroom and before preparing or touching food. Illness from hepatitis A can range from a mild case that lasts a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

“We are in the middle of a statewide outbreak of hepatitis A,” Health Commissioner Julianne Nesbit said. “While the risk remains low of getting the virus through contaminated food, we are urging anyone who has eaten at the McDonald’s in Bethel during the dates in question to be aware and watch for symptoms.”

A vaccine can protect you from getting sick if received within two weeks of contact with the virus. Patrons should contact their health care provider if they have questions or concerns.

The Ohio Department of Health declared a statewide outbreak of hepatitis A in June. So far, there have been 1,370 cases statewide and 42 cases in Clermont County that are linked to this outbreak.

People at the highest risk of hepatitis A during this outbreak include:

• People with direct contact with anyone who has the virus;
• People who use illegal drugs;
• People who are homeless;
• People who have traveled to other areas of the U.S. that are currently experiencing an outbreak;
• People who have been incarcerated; and
• Men who have sex with men.

In addition to getting a vaccine, the best way to protect yourself from hepatitis A is to wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and before eating.

For more information on hepatitis A, click here.