Hepatitis A vaccines urged after Steak 'n Shake case

Published: Sep. 29, 2018 at 12:11 AM EDT
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Vaccinations are underway at a Lansing Steak 'n Shake restaurant after a confirmed case of hepatitis A was found in an employee.

News 10's Mallory Anderson spoke with the Ingham County Health Department Friday afternoon.

And while this is a serious situation, they're insisting that this particular case shouldn't cause panic.

However, it does shed light on the ongoing hepatitis A outbreak we've been dealing with in Michigan for over two years.

Friday, the Steak 'n Shake on Edgewood Boulevard in Lansing was business as usual, but that was not the case earlier this week.

Only a few days ago, it was discovered an employee of the restaurant had a confirmed case of hepatitis A.

"That person working at Steak n Shake did work during the period of time when they would've been contagious, actually for a fairly substantial number of days and substantial number of hours during that period of time probably without knowing," said Linda Vail, an ICHD officer.

This means anyone who ate at the restaurant between Sept. 2 and Sept. 25 might have been exposed and should look out for symptoms, which include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, and yellow skin and eyes.

The risk of infection is very low, but those who ate at the restaurant recently between the 14th and 25th are now advised to receive the hepatitis A vaccine.

But if you're worried about your children who ate there, there's actually a good chance your kids in the clear because they're already vaccinated.

"I mean, this is a recommended childhood vaccine anyway, so really there's nobody in this community that shouldn't be getting vaccinated with Hepatitis A. You add on top of that that we have an ongoing fairly substantial outbreak in this part of the state, separate and aside from anything that's going on at any particular facility, this is a good time to get vaccinated with hepatitis A," Vail said.

That substantial outbreak has been going on since August of 2016, and nearly 900 people have been infected to date with some being hospitalized and others dying, so the health department reminds the community to be aware, look for symptoms, and always wash your hands.

News 10 reached out to Steak 'n Shake's corporate office for a comment on this situation but they did not get back to us.

However, the Ingham County Health Department states that this Edgewood Boulevard location took the case very seriously, and worked closely with them.

The restaurant was completely closed earlier this week for a complete disinfection with bleach, which was the restaurant's choice to do.

Since we broke this story, Sparrow Hospital says it's been flooded with calls from people worried about getting hepatitis A.

The hospital is urging people to call the county health department to get their questions answered.