CARTERSVILLE, Ga. — State Health Department officials said a worker at a Cartersville location of Willy's Mexicana Grill has been diagnosed with a case of hepatitis A.

Their investigation found that the employee was working at the restaurant while infectious between May 31 and June 17 at the eatery in the 100 block of Main Street in Cartersville.

According to health department officials, it is relatively rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A from an infected food handler. 

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However, anyone who consumed food or drinks at that particular Willy's Mexicana Grill location during that period should contact their healthcare provider to determine if a hepatitis A immunization is needed in order to prevent the disease.

County health departments are offering free hepatitis A vaccinations to restaurant workers and everyone else.  

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The Georgia Department of Public Health advises anyone who has consumed food or drink from that restaurant during that period to:

  1. Monitor their health symptoms of hepatitis A infection for up to 50 days following exposure.
  2. Wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
  3. Stay at home and contact their healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver which can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and light-colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People may become ill up to 50 days following exposure to the virus.

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Hepatitis A is acquired when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. 

The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash their hands adequately following their use of the toilet or engaging in behaviors that increase risk of infection.

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