MT. VERNON — The Jefferson County Health Department has been notified about potential exposure of Hepatitis A at a local restaurant.

The health department is encouraging anyone who visited Mt. Vernon Applebee’s during the timeframe of July 9-19  seek a vaccine for Hepatitis A as they may have been exposed.

Andy Patel, the Applebee’s franchisee released the following statement: “We are committed to maintaining a clean and safe environment for all guests and team members. Immediately upon learning that a team member of our Mt. Vernon, IL location had been infected with hepatitis A from an outside source, we partnered with the local health department and thoroughly cleaned and sanitized the restaurant. Because of COVID-19 we have already had a very strict and regimented disinfecting procedure requiring regular cleaning and disinfecting of all frequently touched areas in the restaurant. Additionally, team members have been alerted and encouraged to vaccinate to protect themselves. We continue to be committed to the highest standards of health and safety to keep guests and team members safe.”

Communicable Disease and Environmental Health staff have been working with the management of Applebee’s to educate and vaccinate staff members and they have been cooperating with JCHD’s investigation fully. Applebee’s has also done a thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the facility.

Hepatitis A is spread when someone unknowingly ingests the virus through personal contact with an infected person or through eating contaminated food or drink. Symptoms of hepatitis A can last up to 2 months and include fatigue, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, dark urine, clay-colored stool, and jaundice.

The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. After an exposure vaccination needs to occur within two weeks of that exposure and before symptoms appear. You can find more information on the disease at the CDC’s website.

Contact your primary care physician or JCHD if you feel you need to be vaccinated. JCHD is open Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.