We've heard recent stories of maggots being found in chicken, bad burritos and even vegans being spiked, but nothing sounds as horrifying as getting a life-changing liver disease from your local convenience store or restaurant.
We recently found out that 7-Eleven customers in Utah were exposed to Hepatitis A in December. As many as 2,000 people in the Salt Lake City suburbs could have been infected, putting a lot of people's Christmas and New Year in jeopardy.
Now it looks like Waffle House patrons have been exposed to Hepatitis A during an outbreak in Kentucky. According to the Ashland-Boys Country Health Department, two Waffle House restaurants in Boyd County was diagnosed with Hepatitis A.
The window of possible exposure for the worker was February 12 to 28, the health department said. It can take up to 50 days from exposure to the illness for symptoms to develop, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Waffle House restaurant owner and employees have cooperated fully, and will notify its patrons of the potential exposure, the health department said. Employees of the Waffle House restaurants are receiving post-exposure Hepatitis A injections.
An employee at a Kroger in Louisville was diagnosed with Hepatitis A last week, according to the Courier-Journal. The 4915 Dixie Highway location advised shoppers to throw away produce bought at the store from February 4 to 28. The Kroger employee was wearing gloves while handling the produce, the Courier-Journal reported, but that does not eliminate the risk of acquiring the virus.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus, which hits adults the hardest, according to the health department. Symptoms include fatigue, sudden nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain or discomfort, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, dark urine, joint pain, yellowing of the skin and whites of your eyes, as well as intense itching.
People are at risk for the virus if they have been exposed to someone with it, have travelled to a country where the virus is common, if they are homeless or lack access to adequate restroom facilities, use illicit drugs or have had sexual contact with an infected person. You can acquire it from a sick person who simply forgot to wash their hands.
Pretty much all of the menu could have carried the virus, and it's best to double check in with a medical professional even if you're sure you don't have it (if you have been to either of these Waffle Houses). For what it's worth, Hepatitis A rarely causes long-term problems, but it can reoccur once the symptoms have left.
The ultimate worst case scenario can lead to liver failure, in which case you'll need a transplant to avoid an untimely death. The health department says: "There is a two-week window upon exposure for an individual to receive the Hepatitis A vaccine." I know it's hard to hear, but for the meantime, if you're in Kentucky, then don't eat any waffles.