TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. – People who ate at a Florida Taco Bell in mid-April may have been exposed to hepatitis A.
Scripps station WFTS in Tampa reported that an employee at a Taco Bell, located at 40976 U.S. Highway 19 North in Tarpon Springs, tested positive for hepatitis A, according to an email sent by the Pinellas County Health Department to the state.
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The county also reported the employee worked at that Tarpon Spring's Taco Bell during his infectious period from April 12 to April 14.
On April 17, the agency reached out to the Division of Hotels and Restaurants to conduct a joint investigation and food safety inspection.
When inspectors showed up on that day, the state found employees were not washing their hands.
According to the inspection report, the state also discovered there was no hot water in the hand wash sink in the men's and women's rooms and the soap dispenser was not working in the men's room.
As health officials have warned, hepatitis A is spread when infected individuals do not wash their hands properly and contaminate food or surfaces they touch.
If you think you've been exposed to hepatitis A, medical experts recommend you get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The Pinellas County Health Department is offering free vaccines to anyone who wants one but the agency never told the public about the infected worker at Taco Bell.
Taco Bell Corporation released the following statement after WFTS learned about the employee testing positive for Hepatitis A.
"As soon as the operator of this Tarpon Springs, FL location learned from the Pinellas County Health Department that one of the team members had been diagnosed, the franchisee began working closely with Taco Bell and health officials. The restaurant was immediately thoroughly sanitized and all team members were vaccinated. The safety of our customers and team members is our highest priority; we take this very seriously.”
For more information on Hepatitis A and guidelines from the federal government, visit: www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/index.htm.