ADPH: Marco's Pizza employee in Anniston had hepatitis A

Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC
Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC

ANNISTON, AL (WBRC) - The Alabama and Calhoun County Health Departments want to hear from anyone who ordered food from Marco's Pizza near Anniston between September 26 and October 2.

This comes after a driver who works at the store was diagnosed with hepatitis A.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) issued that advisory Wednesday, saying anyone who ordered from the store that week, whether it was pickup or delivery, should contact the health department, and get either a hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, to reduce their chances of getting sick.

Officials say hepatitis A rarely causes severe illness, but people 50 years old or older, or people suffering from liver disease, are most at risk.

"Adults with hepatitis A may have symptoms that include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice. These symptoms usually resolve within two months of infection," said Dr. Burnestine Taylor, Medical Officer for Disease Control and Prevention, ADPH. "Children less than six years of age generally do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. Almost all people who get hepatitis A recover completely."

The restaurant, located in the Saks Shopping Center on Highway 431 in Saks, is open as usual Thursday. Both Marco's corporate and the state health department confirm it passed an inspection on October 6 and received a clean bill of health, "in order to assure the safety of our customers," said Laura Johnstone, a Marco's corporate spokesperson, in a statement.

"We've been working closely with the Calhoun County Health Department to ensure the safety of our customers and everyone in the community," the Marco's statement continues. "We've been advised to direct further inquiries on the subject to the medical professionals at the health department, the experts on the subject. Please visit their website or call them at 256-237-7523 for more information.

"Our hearts and prayers are with the driver for a quick recovery, and we're focused on continuing to provide the quality service and products that our customers deserve," Johnstone concludes.

Cindy Lesinger, director of the ADPH Immunization Division, says it is a low-risk situation. She says the store provided a list of all its deliveries, more than a thousand, during that time period, and is contacting the people on that list. Since most orders most likely represent more than one person, but also repeat customers, they don't have an exact number, and they don't have a list of people who ordered for pickup.

Still, Lesinger admits she's concerned by the number, because the Calhoun County Health Department doesn't have enough of the hepatitis A vaccine on hand to immunize all of those people.

"It's a longer list than we anticipated," Lesinger said by phone Wednesday morning. "If they have insurance, they really need to go to their private provider or pharmacy. We're not going to have enough vaccine to vaccinate everybody who was exposed at Marco's, at the county health department."

Lesinger says the state health department is contacting all area health care providers to see if they have any of the vaccine on hand, and have sent some of it from other areas to Anniston. She says they have ordered more from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, and hopes to have it in stock before the end of the week.

Copyright 2017 WBRC. All rights reserved.