Health District: Hepatitis A outbreak in Yakima County, possible exposure at Popeye’s

EDITOR’S NOTE: The headline has been edited to clarify that while there was a possible hepatitis A exposure at Popeye’s in Yakima, health officials have not confirmed that the cases are directly linked to the restaurant.

YAKIMA, Wash. — Over the past two weeks, health officials have been notified of five patients who tested positive for acute hepatitis A in Yakima County.

The Yakima Health District says all the cases reside within the homeless or illicit drug user population. There was a potential exposure from Oct. 23 to Oct. 31 at Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen on West Nob Hill Boulevard in Yakima.

Popeye’s was notified of the exposure on Wednesday, Nov. 6 2019. Upon notification, Popeye’s disinfected the restaurant and will be working with the Yakima Health District to ensure there is no continued risk of exposure there.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A
virus. It is usually transmitted person-to-person when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from touching objects or consuming food contaminated with stool from an infected person.

After someone has been exposed to hepatitis A, symptoms may begin to develop two to six weeks after infection.

Symptoms include yellow skin or eyes (jaundice), dark urine, pale stools, loss of appetite, fever, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, joint pain and abdominal pain. Unvaccinated people who have these symptoms should contact a primary care provider immediately.

The health district says all customers who were at Popeye’s from Oct. 23 to Oct. 31 should be sure that they have been vaccinated against hepatitis A or obtain the hepatitis A vaccine as soon as possible.

Anyone with questi​​​​​​ons or concerns about their visit to Popeye’s can contact the restaurant chain at 1-844-944-5444.