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Hepatitis A outbreak in Yakima county

By Rachel Brooks

Contributor| Telegraph Local 

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Hepatitis A has been plaguing the United States in the last few weeks. Washington state is one of many states feeling the negative effects. 

Citing the Yakima Herald, Yakima County, WA now has 18 confirmed cases of hepatitis A. All cases of hepatitis A within Yakima County are linked to the homeless community and especially those who were using illicit drugs, citing Yakima Health District. This has been a rapidly doubling outbreak of Hepatitis A with the strain being detected circa late October, citing Kima TV CBS. 

CBS Kima TV quoted the health district as stating a local Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen on Nob Hill Blvd, in Yakima City was the believed origin of the outbreak. The location is in Rainier Square which is a dining district in the area. The infection develops between two to six weeks of exposure. If you had eaten in the Rainier district in late October and were exposed, you should consider being tested for hepatitis A. 

The Yakima Popeye’s location. Screencapture from Yaktrinews.com

It is unclear at this moment if the hepatitis A outbreak in Yakima County has any relationship with the multi-state outbreak spanning the midwest and northern states Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The case in the mid-west involved contaminated berries from a Fresh Thyme grocers distribution center in Illinois. Unless the Popeye’s in Rainier District sourced produce and other food products from a Fresh Thyme’s location, then these cases may not be directly linked. Telegraph Local is currently investigating whether the Popeye’s on Nob Hill Rd. or the Yakima Popeye’s franchise may have purchased blackberries distributed by the same companies as those which infected the Fresh Thyme Distribution center. Check back later for updates. 

All that is known so far is that the Nob Hill Rd. Popeye’s is part of the Yakima Synergy Pacific Management LLC franchise, citing the Yakima Herald in 2017.   This location is owned by LK Yakima LC citing Yakima Co. GIS. It is not yet known where the restaurants in this franchise group source their produce or other fresh products. If produce was sourced from the same location, then there is a potential link between the two virus strains.

Citing the Lewiston Tribune, 129 people have been vaccinated for hepatitis A since the outbreak was detected in November. 

Screencapture CPS Healthcare Twitter. Medical Practices are issuing warnings in the wake of this outbreak. 

Hepatitis A is quoting Mayo Clinic a “highly contagious liver infection”. The symptoms of hepatitis A prevent as follows, citing Mayo Clinic: 

  • Fatigue
  • Sudden nausea and vomiting
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowish skin and eye whites (jaundice) 
  • Severe itching

If you experience one or more of the following symptoms, and also dined in the Rainier District in late October, you should be seen by a physician. Symptoms of hepatitis A are not typically severe and may go away in a few weeks. However, hepatitis A infection can also last for more than a month. This may be potentially damaging to the liver and should be treated as a serious medical condition. 

The dining district was exposed by the presence of illicit drug use in their area. Popeye’s was informed of the outbreak on November 6, 2019. Yakima Health District and Popeye’s collaborated to disinfect the premises and worked toward eliminating all future exposure risks.
Hepatitis A usually spreads through ingestion. Typically, it comes from things, like food or drinks, that come in contact with trace amounts of infected human waste, citing the CDC.

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