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Maine CDC warns of possible hepatitis A exposure at Skowhegan store

Officials said the worker, while infectious, handled food at the Walmart located at 60 Fairgrounds Market Place in Skowhegan during three weeks in May.

SKOWHEGAN, Maine — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday it has identified a case of acute hepatitis A virus in a Skowhegan food service worker.  

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can spread through contaminated food or water, Maine CDC said in a release.

Officials said the worker, while infectious, handled food at the Walmart located at 60 Fairgrounds Market Place in Skowhegan on these dates:

  • May 7, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • May 8, 10, 11, 12, and 14, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • May 15, 17, 18, 19, and 21, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. 

"Anyone who purchased and/or ate food from the deli in this Walmart during these times could be at risk for hepatitis A infection," the Maine CDC said in Tuesday's release. "This applies only to food prepared in the deli during these dates and times. No other food or items were potentially contaminated."

Hepatitis A is preventable with a vaccine. According to the Maine CDC, even people exposed to hepatitis A can avoid getting sick if they get the vaccine within 14 days of exposure.

Symptoms begin to show 15–50 days after exposure to the virus. The Maine CDC said an infected person can spread the virus to others about two weeks before symptoms begin and until one week after symptoms begin. 

State health officials offered the following recommendations:

  • Discard any deli food items bought at the Skowhegan Walmart during the times listed above.
  • If you ate any food prepared in the deli at Walmart during these times, get a hepatitis A vaccine within 14 days of eating the food.
  • Individuals who worked in the deli at Walmart during these times should get a hepatitis A vaccine within 14 days of the first exposure.
  • If you are already vaccinated for hepatitis A, you are already protected. You do not need to get any other hepatitis A vaccine doses now.

The Maine CDC said anyone who ate food from the deli or worked in the deli at Walmart during the dates listed above should watch for these symptoms:

  • tiredness
  • low or no appetite
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • dark-colored urine
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

Hepatitis A symptoms range from mild to severe sickness, the Maine CDC's release states.

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