400+ customers of Tortilla Marissa's restaurant in Fort Collins seek free hepatitis A shots

Restaurant worker diagnosed with hepatitis A

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - More than 400 customers who recently ate or drank at Tortilla Marissa’s in Fort Collins have signed up to get free hepatitis A shots Saturday at the Larimer County Health Department, an agency spokeswoman said.

The free vaccinations were offered after a food worker employed at the restaurant at 2635 S. College Ave. tested positive for hepatitis A last week, said Jane Viste, spokeswoman for the health department. The disease can be transmitted through food or drink handled by an infected food worker.

"The restaurant has been very cooperative in this and they're very serious about not having this spread to their other patrons," said Larimer County Dept. of Health and Environment spokeswoman Jane Viste. "So the restaurant is shut down and it could be closed for up to 50 days."

Viste said the free vaccinations are only being given to people who consumed food or drink from the restaurant with in the past 14 days, because the shots will not provide protection for someone who was exposed to hepatitis A more than two weeks ago.

Those who ate at the restaurant more than 14 days ago should monitor their health and contact their doctor if hepatitis symptoms develop. Symptoms 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 four weeks after ingesting the virus.

The vaccination clinics will be held at the Larimer County Health Department's Fort Collins office at 1525 Blue Spruce Drive on Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m., and on Monday, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Eligible people can obtain a free hepatitis A vaccination or Immune Globulin injection to reduce the risk of illness.

People are encouraged to pre-register for the clinic through a link at www.larimer.org to reduce wait times. Shots can also be obtained from private health care providers. Some pharmacies may be able to provide hepatitis A vaccine, with a physician’s order.

For information about hepatitis A and preventive treatment, please contact the Colorado Health Emergency Line for Public Information (CO-HELP) at 1-877-462-2911, or 303-389-1687.  For additional questions, call the Larimer County Health Department at 970-498-6706. Additional information about hepatitis A can also be found through www.larimer.org and on the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/Hepatitis/A/index.htm

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