FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– Customers at the Tortilla Marissa restaurant in Fort Collins may have been exposed to Hepatitis A and are being urged to get vaccinated.
The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment issued the warning to customers who ate at Tortilla Marissa in the past 14 days.
The restaurant is located at 2635 S. College Avenue in Fort Collins.
A food worker employed at Tortilla Marissa has tested positive for Hepatitis A, a disease that might be passed to others through food directly handled by the employee before any symptoms appeared.
The restaurant is cooperating fully in the investigation and has agreed to voluntarily close until approved by the Larimer County Health Department to reopen.
The risk of transmission to others occurred primarily this month but there is a very low risk that transmission might extend back to May of this year.
Customers who consumed food or drinks, either dine-in or take-out, from the restaurant in the past 14 days could benefit from getting a Hepatitis A vaccination or Immune Globulin (IG) injection to reduce the risk of illness.
The Larimer County Health Department is recommending vaccine or IG shots for people who have eaten any food prepared at Tortilla Marissa’s if they can obtain preventive treatment within 14 days of their exposure.
Shots can be obtained from private health care providers or at two special clinics the Health Department will be holding on Sunday and Monday specifically for those potentially exposed to Hepatitis A through this restaurant.
The Health Department will be providing shots free-of-charge at the Larimer County Health Department, 1525 Blue Spruce Drive, Fort Collins, on Sunday, June 29, from noon to 5 p.m. and on Monday, June 30, from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. These clinics are only for customers who have eaten food prepared at Tortilla Marissa’s since June 15 (for the Sunday clinic) or since June 16 (for the Monday clinic).
As of Friday, no secondary cases have been reported by any customers, but the disease has a long incubation period (time from infection to illness) of 14-50 days.
Online pre-registration for the clinics is strongly encouraged, as it will significant reduce wait times to receive services.
Some pharmacies may be able to provide Hepatitis A vaccine, with a physician’s order, for those customers whose 14-day window will expire on June 27 or 28, if they cannot get into their provider’s office.
People who have had at least one vaccination for hepatitis A or have had the illness in the past are protected from hepatitis A infection and do NOT need to receive any shots.
People who recently ate at Tortilla Marrisa’s who are not currently in the Larimer County area are urged to contact their state or local public health department or their health care provider to obtain necessary shots if they can do so within the 14-day window.
Those who ate at the restaurant more than 14 days ago might have been exposed, but a shot would not offer protection from any potential exposure to food from this restaurant. They should monitor their health and contact their health care provider if hepatitis symptoms develop.
Symptoms of hepatitis A may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, gray or white stools, and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and/or skin). Symptoms are more severe in adults than children. For most people, symptoms usually appear about 4 weeks after ingesting the virus.
Anyone who develops symptoms should contact their health care provider and NOT prepare food for others. This is especially important for food workers, health care workers, and day care workers.
Hepatitis A virus is shed in the stool and can be spread when an infected person does not properly wash his or her hands after using the bathroom, and then touches food or objects that others will put into their mouth. It is NOT spread by kissing, hugging, sneezing, or casual contact.
Thorough hand-washing can prevent the spread of hepatitis A virus. As a prevention measure, people should always wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the bathroom, after diapering, before preparing food, and before eating.
For information about hepatitis A, please contact the Colorado Health Emergency Line for Public Information (CO-HELP) at 1-877-462-2911, or 303-389-1687. Additional information about hepatitis A can also be found on the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/Hepatitis/A/index.htm
Information about how to sign up for the Hepatitis A vaccination clinics provided by the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment will be available no later than Saturday afternoon through www.larimer.org or by calling 970-498-6706.