Restaurant employees warned about hepatitis employee

GSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Health officials say an employee at a Kingsport restaurant has been diagnosed with hepatitis and some customers need to take action.

According to the Sullivan County Department of Health, an employee at McAlister’s Deli located at 2003 N. Eastman Road has been diagnosed with acute hepatitis A.

The health department says customers who ate at the restaurant from March 11-27 should contact the department for more information.

The department says McAlister’s has taken preventative measures, including closing the store for cleaning and requiring vaccination of employees.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, decreased appetite, stomach pain, nausea, darkened urine, pale stools, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). People can become ill 15 to 50 days after being exposed to the virus. Anyone experiencing symptoms should seek medical attention.

The best ways to prevent hepatitis A infection are to get vaccinated and to practice good handwashing to remove germs.

News Channel 11’s Chantel Batista is following this story and just spoke to Dr. Stephen May at the Sullivan County Regional Health Department.

Chantel asked Dr. May just how many people this could impact. Dr. May said he was told by the restaurant they have approximately 500 customers a day. According to the health department that means thousands could be impacted.

Tuesday evening the owner of the Kingsport McAlister’s Deli, Chris Smith, released the following statement:

“We voluntarily closed our McAlister’s today after learning an employee was diagnosed with Hepatitis A.  We are fully cooperating with the health department to ensure a clean and safe environment for our restaurant and guests. We have discarded all prepped and open food, conducted a thorough cleaning and sanitization process, and will have vaccinated all employees by the time we open tomorrow.”