A Red Robin worker who tested positive for the hepatitis A virus may have exposed over 5,000 people to the disease.
According to Ozarks First
, Kevin Gipson of the Springfield County Health Department in Missouri said Wednesday that an immunization clinic has now been set up for anyone who may have visited the restaurant between May 8 and 16 on S. Glenstone Ave.
Fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and discolored urine can result from the virus, but lucky for those potentially exposed, it usually incubates for 28-30 days, and a vaccine administered within 14 days of exposure can often head off the disease's manifestation.
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Mild cases usually don't require treatment, and leave no lasting damage, however more severe cases that can occur in those with weakened immune systems can lead to liver failure and death. Those who do catch the disease are usually immune after recovery.
In the Springfield case, 4,000 doses of the vaccine have been ordered from Memphis, and Red Robin's workers were the first to be immunized.
"It scared me because my husband has been sick," said Andrea Hall, a Red Robin customer, CNN reported
. "And a lot of his symptoms of his matched. A red flag just went off and I was like what do I do from here."
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 17,000 people contract hepatitis A each year, and the vaccine has been administered widely since it was introduced in the U.S. in 1995.
Gipson said the potential for outbreak was the biggest health scare the county's seen in 20 years. A similar incident happened at another restaurant in Springfield in 1997, he said.
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