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The State of NH reports an increase in the number of cases of Hepatitis A infection in NH. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that can infect a person’s liver and make them sick for weeks to months. The virus is spread through stool (feces/poop) of people with the virus. People can get hepatitis A by eating food or water contaminated with feces of a person that has the virus, or through person-to-person contact with someone that has the virus.
Food handlers have the potential to infect hundreds of people during one work shift making them a greater public health risk than non-food handlers. Foods may be contaminated when an infected food handler, who does not wash his/her hands carefully after using the toilet, directly touches foods that will be eaten uncooked or foods that have already been cooked and are ready to eat. This is why good personal hygiene and good hand washing are always important.
You can help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A by:
Always washing hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after using the toilet.
It is extremely important that food handlers not handle food or drinks when they feel ill.
Employees should notify the health department if they develop signs or symptoms similar to those of hepatitis A.
The proper use of gloves can help to prevent the spread of hepatitis A.
A fresh pair of gloves must be worn each time after an employee uses the rest room.
Gloves must be changed to a fresh pair whenever gloves have been used to touch items other than food, after touching raw (to be cooked) foods or before touching clean utensils used to directly prepare food.
Gloves should always be replaced if a tear is noticed.
Glove use is no substitute for good handwashing practices. Hands must always be washed prior to using or replacing gloves.
Below are links with additional information and signage for your establishment. Please take this opportunity to reiterate proper hand hygiene and glove use with your staff. If you haven’t already done so, it is highly recommended that your establishment develop and require an Employee Health Policy Agreement.
What Food Service Workers Need to Know about Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A Fact Sheet
Wash Your Hands
Wear Gloves the Right Way
Employee Health Policy Sample