Hepatitis A in worker temporarily closes Lynnwood restaurant

Diners at Ashiya Teriyaki on 164th Street SW from Aug. 2 to 15 should contact a healthcare provider.

Hepatitis A (National Institutes of Health)

Hepatitis A (National Institutes of Health)

LYNNWOOD — A teriyaki restaurant that was closed Thursday by the health department after a worker tested positive for hepatitis A was reopened Friday afternoon.

But those who ate food from Ashiya Teriyaki during a nearly two-week period might be at risk for developing hepatitis A.

The Snohomish Health District said patrons between Aug. 2 and 15 should contact their medical provider to see if treatment is needed, even those who have no symptoms or previously had the hepatitis A vaccine.

“The person was at work during the infectious or contagious period,” health district spokeswoman Heather Thomas said.

Ashiya Teriyaki is at 1233 164th St. SW in a strip plaza, diagonal across the busy road from Walmart. The restaurant sells Japanese ramen, udon, curry and donburi. A healthcare provider Wednesday night notified the health district of the infected person, who was tracked to the eatery.

“The restaurant was closed so it could be sanitized and discard all the food,” Thomas said.

Hepatitis A is not airborne, like measles, but it is highly contagious.

“It is person-to-person,” Thomas said. “Or person-to-food contact.”

The spread is common through food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person or by personal contact. The health district said the case does not appear to be linked to the previously reported broader outbreak in Washington state.

Hepatitis A cases don’t often result in restaurant closures, Thomas said. “Now that there is a hepatitis A vaccine and also because food handlers are required to wear gloves.”

Thomas did not have any information on the worker’s condition and said no other cases have been linked to it. Other employees were vaccinated before the restaurant reopened. The vaccine is often free or low-cost, depending on insurance, she said.

The illness is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can vary in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting four to six weeks or longer. Some people, especially children, may not develop jaundice, the yellowing of eyes or skin, and have an illness so mild that it can go unnoticed.

Even mildly ill people can still be highly infectious.

The early signs of hepatitis A are fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine and jaundice.

To prevent the spread of disease, the health district recommends thorough handwashing after using the bathroom and prior to food preparation. Hands should be thoroughly rinsed with running water and dried completely.

People who got sick after eating at any restaurant are urged to contact the Communicable Disease Surveillance line at 425-339-5278.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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