Three people have died in a hepatitis A outbreak linked to Famous Anthony’s restaurants in Roanoke, VA. Health officials say the source of the outbreak, which has sickened 50 people, hospitalizing 31 of them, is an employee who worked at three Famous Anthony’s locations.


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What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that causes infection of the liver. There is no treatment for hepatitis  A infections, but vaccination can prevent illness even if it is done up to two weeks after exposure.

It can take as long as seven weeks for symptoms of a hepatitis A infection to develop. These symptoms include yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, clay-colored stools, decreased appetite, fatigue, fever, nausea and abdominal cramps. These symptoms can last weeks or months as the liver works to heal itself.

A Recent Surge in Hepatitis A Cases

Hepatitis A is widespread in countries with poor sanitation, but not as common in the U.S. After public health officials began recommending the hepatitis A vaccine in 1996, there was a sharp decline in the number of cases reported in the U.S. In 2000, almost 14,000 cases were reported, by 2011 there were fewer than 2,000. Annual case totals hovered between 1,200 and 1,800, until 2016. There were two foodborne hepatitis A outbreaks that year, but that’s also the year when a surge in cases among people who use injectable drugs and people experiencing homelessness began, according to the CDC. Since 2016, 37 states have reported hepatitis A outbreaks attributed to these sources, 23 of these outbreaks were ongoing in 2021. Combined, they have resulted in 42,835 illnesses, 26,057 hospitalizations, and 402 deaths.

CDC chart of hepatitis A infections 2012-2019

Famous Anthony’s Hepatitis A Outbreak has High Rate of Severe Illness

In outbreaks associated with restaurants, transmission usually occurs when an infected food handler uses the bathroom and does not wash hands properly.

There is a high rate of severe disease associated with this outbreak, according to Dr. Cynthia Morrow, health director for the Roanoke & Alleghany Health Districts.  When this outbreak was first announced on September 24, 10 illnesses were reported. By October 15, 37 people were sick, 26 were hospitalized and one person had died. As of October 30, 49 cases had been reported, 31 people were hospitalized and three people had died.

Deaths from Hepatitis A are Rare

Deaths from hepatitis A are rare. Typically, fewer than 1 percent of cases are fatal, according to the CDC. The fatality rate for the Famous Anthony’s hepatitis A outbreak is currently at 6 percent.

Experienced Hepatitis A, Wrongful Death Lawyers

If you have been sickened in this outbreak or experienced the wrongful death of a loved one and would like a free consultation about filing a lawsuit, please contact our experienced hepatitis A lawyers. You can reach them by calling 1-888-377-8900, sending a text to 612-261-0856, or by completing the form below. There is no obligation and we don’t get paid unless we win.

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Hepatitis A Virus

 

This post was originally published October 13, 2021, and updated November 1, 2021, to include updated information about the number of illnesses hospitalizations, and deaths associated with this outbreak.