SD Health Department: Hepatitis A confirmed in Custer restaurant worker

The South Dakota Department of Health says a case of hepatitis A has been reported in a food handler at the Pizza Works restaurant in Custer. Health officials say individuals who ate at the restaurant between June 19 and July 5 should contact their health care provider to find out if they need a shot of immune globulin, which they say minimizes one's chances of becoming ill, or if they should be considered for vaccination.

The department says hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus that can be carried on an infected person's hands and spread by direct contact or by consuming food or drink handled by an infected person. Symptoms include fatigue, poor appetite, fever, abdominal discomfort and vomiting; one's urine may become darker, and then jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes) may appear.

Health officials say hepatitis A is rarely fatal. They say most people recover in a few weeks without complications, and not everyone who is infected will exhibit all the symptoms.

The health department says the best way to prevent the spread of the disease is with careful hand-washing after using the toilet. In addition, infected individuals should not handle foods while contagious, a period which they say begins two weeks before symptoms appear and extends a few days after jaundice appears.

Health officials say Pizza Works is cooperating with the department on the investigation.