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Restaurant patrons may have been exposed to hepatitis A

Health officials in South Springfield, Mo., say a worker at a Red Robin fast-food franchise may have exposed as many as 5,000 customers to hepatitis A.

In a press statement, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department said management from the restaurant contacted the department to say they were concerned their employee was potentially contagious at the time he worked.

"While the Health Department considers this a significant health threat, an important thing to remember is that people are now commonly vaccinated for Hepatitis A," the agency said in a press statement on their website.

The agency is recommending individuals contact a health care provider if they visited and ate at the establishment from May 8 to May 16. The restaurant is located at 3720 S. Glenstone Avenue.

The health department has set up a vaccination clinic in the town this week, as well as a dedicated hotline to provide information to local residents.

Hepatitis A is an infectious viral disease of the liver. Symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, clay-colored stool, dark urine and jaundice. About 20 percent of patients have to be hospitalized. There is no treatment for the virus, and people typically recover within a few months, though relapse is possible.

The American Liver Foundation estimates there are some 180,000 new hepatitis A infections among adults and children each year in the U.S.

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