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November 15, 2023

Hepatitis A exposure found at Falmouth Foreside restaurant

A food service worker at a Falmouth restaurant has been diagnosed with hepatitis A and may have exposed others to the highly contagious liver disease, state officials warned Tuesday afternoon.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the employee of Dockside Grill worked during two periods when the individual was infectious, Oct. 23-25 and Nov. 6-8.

Anyone who dined at the restaurant or ordered takeout during these days could be at risk for contracting hepatitis A, the CDC said in a news release. The restaurant is cooperating with the agency, it said, and there is no concern about ongoing exposure or exposure at other times.

Dockside Grill is a popular waterfront eatery and part of the Handy Boat Marina at 215 Foreside Road in Falmouth Foreside.

Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus, and if untreated can cause jaundice, abdominal pain, fever, fatigue and acute liver failure. The disease spreads when someone unknowingly ingests the virus — even in microscopic amounts — through close personal contact with an infected person or through eating contaminated food or drink.

People exposed to hepatitis A can avoid getting sick if they receive a vaccine for the disease within 14 days of exposure. The hepatitis A vaccine is a two-dose series. After one dose, at least 94 out of 100 people become immune to the hepatitis A virus for several years, the CDC said. Getting the second dose ensures long-term protection.

Cases of hepatitis A in Maine have remained elevated since an initial increase in 2019, according to the CDC. In 2022, case counts in the state grew 28% over the previous year's total, although the number was still relatively small — 64. Maine's incidence of hepatitis A on a per capita basis is far above the national level.

For more information about hepatitis A and vaccination, the Maine CDC recommended visiting a website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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