Ooltewah restaurant employee diagnosed with Hep A, health officials urge vaccinations

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department is urging customers of an Ooltewah restaurant to get vaccinated, this after confirming an employee there has been diagnosed with acute hepatitis A. (Image: WTVC)

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department is urging customers of an Ooltewah restaurant to get vaccinated, this after confirming an employee there has been diagnosed with acute hepatitis A.

According to officials, an employee at the Western Sizzlin Restaurant, located at 6021 Relocation Way, Ooltewah, TN 37363 worked there while contagious from March 10-20, 2019.

The Health Department is asking anyone who ate at the restaurant during that time to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

According to the Health Department, the hepatitis A vaccine is safe, effective, and well tolerated. It is the best protection against the hepatitis A virus. Additional protective measures, such as immune globulin injections, may be recommended for certain people.

In an effort to help those affected, the department is offering free hepatitis A vaccines at the following special clinics:

Sunday, March 24, 1PM – 6PM:

  • Health Department (Main Campus), 921 E. 3rd Street, Chattanooga, TN 37403

Monday, March 25, 8AM – 6PM:

  • Ooltewah Health Center, 5520 High Street, Ooltewah, TN 37363
  • Health Department (Main Campus), 921 E. 3rd Street, Chattanooga, TN 37403

Tuesday, March 26, 8AM – 6PM:

  • Ooltewah Health Center, 5520 High Street, Ooltewah, TN 37363
  • Health Department (Main Campus), 921 E. 3rd Street, Chattanooga, TN 37403

If you can't make it to one of these clinics, you can go to any Health Department health center during regular hours any day next week.

The Health Department says symptoms of hepatitis A are fatigue, decreased appetite, stomach pain, nausea, darkened urine, pale stools, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). People can become ill 15 to 50 days after being exposed to the virus. Anyone experiencing symptoms should seek medical attention.

Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department officials have confirmed 129 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Hamilton County since May 2018. During this time, the Health Department has led an aggressive hepatitis A vaccine campaign, supported by community partners and the Tennessee Department of Health. Over 5,000 vaccinations have been given so far.

Dr. Courtney Cash at AFC Urgent Care says, "It's usually spread when an infected person doesn't wash their hands after using the restroom. Good hygiene and washing your hands are the best way to prevent it."

Officials say hepatitis A usually spreads by the fecal-oral route through ingestion of contaminated food or drinks, close person-to-person contact with an infected person, and recreational drug use, particularly intravenous drugs. The best ways to prevent hepatitis A infection are to get vaccinated and to practice good handwashing to remove germs.


For more information, visit go to the Health Department's website here, or call 423-209-8190 during regular hours.

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