By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer
More than 2,600 shots to prevent hepatitis A have been administered this week in Hereford, Texas, following the diagnosis of a Hereford Sonic Drive-In employee with the virus, according to officials.
The Texas Department of State Health Services began administering free shots Monday afternoon to anyone who patronized the Sonic Drive-In at 305 North 25 Mile Ave. between Oct. 1 and Oct. 13, according to Department spokesperson Doug McBride.
In recent weeks, three cases of hepatitis A, including the Sonic employee’s, have been confirmed in Deaf Smith County, Texas, where Hereford is located, according to McBride.
“We don’t know that anyone actively contracted hepatitis from this employee, but we don’t know that anyone didn’t,” McBride said.
The Department is offering immune globulin shots — which contain antibodies to the illness — as a “precautionary measure,” McBride said. If given within 14 days of exposure to the virus, the shots can usually prevent the illness.
The shots will be offered from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hereford Independent School District administration building, 601 North 25 Mile Ave., through Thursday, according to a Department press release.
Other Sonic Drive-Ins are not implicated in the hepatitis case, McBride said.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver, according to the Department press release. Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine and abdominal discomfort.
The virus is spread via a fecal-oral route and typically contracted when a person consumes food or beverages contaminated by someone with the virus, according the Department press release.
“Typically, this is not a severe illness. But, it can be serious, especially for people with weakened immune systems,” McBride said.
The illness is also dangerous for people with liver disease, the release indicated.
Within a week or two, symptoms of hepatitis A usually fade.
Anyone with questions about the need to receive the shot should call the Texas Department of State Health Services at (806) 655-7151.