SKOWHEGAN — State health officials on Tuesday warned of the threat of exposure to hepatitis A after it was discovered that a deli worker at the Walmart in Skowhegan worked for two weeks this month while sick with the contagious liver disease.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a news release that the deli worker at the Walmart store at 60 Fairgrounds Market Place worked day shifts from the period of May 7 to 21, and warned that customers who purchased or ate food from the deli during that time could be at risk for infection.
“This applies only to food prepared in the deli during these dates and times,” the release said. “No other food or items were potentially contaminated.”
The disease is caused by the hepatitis A virus and can spread through contaminated food or water. Symptoms include fatigue, little or no appetite, stomach pain, nausea, dark-colored urine and jaundice. Sickness can be mild to severe, though most children younger than 6 have mild or no symptoms at all.
The infection can be prevented with a vaccine. Those who have been exposed can avoid getting sick if they get the vaccine within two weeks of exposure, health officials said.
Officials recommend that anyone who purchased items from the deli during the two weeks in question discard the items and to get vaccinated if the items have already been consumed. Any employees who worked during those times in the deli are also encouraged to get vaccinated.
Symptoms of hepatitis A begin to appear between 15 to 50 days after exposure. An infected person can spread the virus about two weeks before symptoms begin and for about a week after symptoms start.
This story will be updated.