P.F. Chang’s employee found to have hepatitis A

People who dined or had drinks at the restaurant between Nov. 6 and Nov. 17 advised to get vaccine

An aerial map shows the location of P.F. Chang’s on Osprey Avenue in Sarasota. Image from Google Maps

A positive case of hepatitis A has been identified in a food service worker at P.F. Chang’s restaurant near downtown Sarasota, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) announced this week.

After conducting an epidemiological investigation, a news release says, DOH-Sarasota determined that an individual on staff at P.F. Chang’s from Nov. 6 to Nov. 17 “may have been infectious,” the news release points out. The restaurant is located at located at 766 S. Osprey Ave.

“The hepatitis A vaccine may provide protection against the disease if given within two weeks after exposure,” the release adds. “Therefore, the hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for anyone who ate or drank at this restaurant” between Nov. 6 and Nov. 17, the release says.

“If you previously have received the hepatitis A vaccine or have had a past history of a Hepatitis A infection, you are considered immune to the hepatitis A virus and do not need to take additional action,” the release points out.

“Those with specific questions about exposure to hepatitis A at P.F. Chang’s can call (941) 861-2873 to reach the DOH-Sarasota Epidemiology staff,” the release emphasizes.

“DOH-Sarasota is encouraging all healthcare providers, including hospital emergency departments to stay on high alert and immediately report cases of hepatitis A to DOH-Sarasota, as well as identify those who would benefit from vaccination,” the release continues.

DOH-Sarasota is offering the hepatitis A vaccine for free at its Sarasota and North Port Immunization Clinics, the release adds.

People who should be vaccinated for hepatitis A include the following, the release notes:

  • All children at the age of 12 months.
  • People who are experiencing homelessness.
  • Users of recreational drugs, regardless of whether the drugs were injected.
  • Men who have sexual encounters with other men.
  • People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A.
  • Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common.
  • People with chronic/long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
  • People with clotting-factor disorders.
  • Family members and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common.

DOH-Sarasota in downtown Sarasota is located at 2200 Ringling Blvd., at the School Avenue intersection. Its hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 to 11 a.m. and from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. On Tuesdays, the hours are 8 to 11 a.m.
On Fridays, DOH-Sarasota is open from 8 to 11 a.m. and from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

DOH-Sarasota in North Port is located at 6950 Outreach Way. Its hours areMondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 4:30 p.m.; Tuesdays, from 8 to 11:30 a.m.; and on Fridays, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m.

The news release explains, “Hepatitis A is a highly contagious disease that attacks the liver. People infected with hepatitis A are most contagious from two weeks before onset of symptoms to one week afterwards. Not everyone who is infected will have all the symptoms. Symptoms usually start within 28 days of exposure to the virus with a range of 15-50 days.”

Among the symptoms are the following:

  • Jaundice (yellowing skin and whites of eyes)
  • Fever.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fatigue/tiredness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Pale or clay-colored stool.

As with the national outbreak,” the release points out, the majority of cases of hepatitis A in Florida” involve those who have close contacts with persons experiencing homelessness or persons who use or inject drugs. “Less than 5% of cases have been identified among food workers. To date, FDOH has not identified a case of hepatitis A transmission from a food worker to a restaurant patron.”