1 death, 26 hospitalizations linked to hepatitis A outbreak at Famous Anthony’s in Virginia

ROANOKE, Va. — One person has died after contracting a hepatitis A infection linked to a Roanoke, Virginai-based restaurant chain outbreak that has sickened more than three dozen people.

>> Read more trending news

According to a news release issued by the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health District, an adult with underlying health conditions died of complications from the virus, which health department officials have determined was contracted at one of three Famous Anthony’s restaurants, the Roanoke Times reported.

An employee who worked at Famous Anthony’s locations on Grandin Road, Crystal Spring Avenue and Williamson Road was diagnosed with the virus and believed to be the source of the clusters, the newspaper reported.

To date, the outbreak has sickened at least 37 people, resulting in at least 26 hospitalizations. The department is still investigating potential positive tests, however, so those figures could increase, WDBJ7 reported.

Cynthia Morrow, the health district’s director, stated in the news release that although hepatitis A typically causes “self-limited inflammation of the liver,” the current outbreak has resulted in a “high rate of severe disease.”

Morrow also confirmed that the virus’s exposure period has passed, meaning no ongoing threat remains associated with eating at Famous Anthony’s restaurant locations. Anyone who visited any of the three locations between Aug. 10 and Aug. 27 risked exposure to the virus, however, and should monitor for symptoms, even though it is likely hepatitis A symptoms would have already presented, she stated.

Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools and jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes, the Roanoke Times reported.

In a statement issued Friday, the management of Famous Anthony’s stated that the chain has cooperated fully with health officials since learning of the virus exposure linked to its restaurants, WDBJ7 reported.

“Famous Anthony’s has provided a safe environment for customers and workers for 35 years, and it continues to work with health officials and comply with any recommendations given to it by the appropriate authorities to ensure the continued safe operation of all of its current locations,” the chain’s management stated.

“As Famous Anthony’s continues its investigation, it wishes to express that it is mindful of the impact this unforeseen event has and continues to have on individuals and families in this community. Additionally, Famous Anthony’s offers its heartfelt concern and sympathy for all those affected,” the company added.

According to the health district, frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.

Exposure to the virus may occur through direct contact with an infected person or by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated. Symptoms may develop 15 to 50 days following exposure, and people are at increased risk if they have been in close and continuous contact with an infected person, particularly in a household or day care setting.