An employees at Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant in Saco has tested positive for hepatitis A, putting customers who ate there last month at risk of infection, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The restaurant worker has acute hepatitis A, according to the Maine CDC. Customers who consumed food from the restaurant on May 22 or May 23 are encouraged to receive the hepatitis A vaccine to protect themselves from getting the disease. Those who ate food from May 12 to May 21 are outside the 14-day window where a vaccine would be effective, but are encouraged to look out for symptoms and stay in touch with their health care provider.

“The individual handled food at Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant while infectious from May 12, 2020, through May 23, 2020. An assessment of the employee’s illness determined that restaurant patrons may be at risk for hepatitis A infection,” according to a news release. “This includes anyone who may have had take-out, delivery or curbside pickup of food from the restaurant.”

The state had 44 cases of acute hepatitis A in 2019, and nine cases through March of this year, the Maine CDC reported.

Morey Highbarger, owner of Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant, said in a statement that the worker “has been given an all clear following treatment by his physician.”

“We are happy to report that no other team member nor any customer of the restaurant has reported infection,” Highbarger said. “We maintain the highest level of sanitation with an eye toward scrupulous food service safety.”


Highbarger said all employees wear masks and gloves and wash hands frequently. The restaurant is cleaned and sanitized frequently, he said.

Restaurants in southern Maine were closed to in-person dining in May to reduce spread of the novel coronavirus, but customers could still get takeout, delivery or curbside pickup. Restaurants have now re-opened for in-person dining, but those in Cumberland, York and Androscoggin counties are limited to outdoor seating because of the higher rates of COVID-19 cases in those counties.

Vaccines are the best way to prevent hepatitis A.

“Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms range from mild illness to a severe sickness that requires hospitalization and can last several months. Most adults with hepatitis A have a sudden onset of symptoms such as tiredness, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, dark urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Most children younger than 6 years old do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection,” according to the Maine CDC news release.

Hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated food or water. Symptoms typically begin 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus.

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