INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Marion County Public Health Department is warning people they could be exposed to Hepatitis A, if they drank tea from the Teavana store inside the Fashion Mall.
Teavana tells 24-Hour News 8 an employee was diagnosed with Hepatitis A and could have exposed others to the virus. The employee worked on April 5, April 12 and April 19.
“Basically what happens is, if someone uses the restroom and they’re infected with Hepatitis A and they don’t do a good job of thoroughly washing their hands, they can then spread it to others,” said RN Melissa McMasters with the Marion County Public Health Department.
Customers who drank tea from the Teavana store on those dates should be on the lookout for symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fever or loss of appetite. Customers who drank tea on April 19 still have time to get vaccinated to help prevent the disease. The Health Department will give the vaccine to customers who shopped at the store on the 19th, free of charge.
“We’ve been working very closely with Teavana and they’re following their recommendations and we’re kind of working together on this. We usually, when we have a case of Hepatitis A in a food worker we’ll go out to the site and do some basic education, talking about the importance of hand washing. and making sure the store does a good disinfecting of the store,” said McMasters.
Customers who drank tea on the 5th or 12th are past the incubation period, and should contact their doctor or the health department if they develop symptoms. While “Hepatitis” is a scary word, the Health Department says there is no reason to panic.
“You have to remember there are different types of Hepatitis. Hepatitis A tends to be a virus, that if a normal health person gets it they might experience some nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and they’ll generally get over it,” said McMasters.
Hepatitis A is most dangerous in people with existing liver conditions, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. There are generally less than five Hepatitis A cases in Marion County every year.
Hoosiers have been flooding the Health Department with calls regarding the Hepatitis A exposure. McMasters says anyone who is worried about the virus can call the Health Department and get a vaccine. McMasters also said the state will begin requiring children get the Hepatitis A vaccine before starting Kindergarten this year.
“In general what happens is, once you have a child population that’s vaccinated fairly well, you don’t see it very often in adults. Even though the school law is new this coming school season, it’s been recommended for kids for a long time. So most kids do actually get the vaccine. When the kids are vaccinated it, ends up not circulating as much in the adult population,” said McMasters.
You can contact the Marion County Public Health Department’s immunization program at 317-221-2122.
If you experience any of the below symptoms, call a health care provider immediately:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)