Just yesterday, the state of Michigan unfortunately saw another individual die as a result of a slow but consistent outbreak of Hepatitis A. According to CNN, over 20 Michigan residents have died in the past year and a half, and there are currently 677 reported cases across the state. While this is surely a health issue and definitely could be included in that MSC category, I wanted to focus on a particular aspect of the problem that for some reason has had the most prevelance in Michigan: restaurants and convinience stores.
To provide a bit of background, hepatitis A is "an infection of the liver caused by a virus. The virus is shed in feces and is most commonly spread from person to person by unclean hands contaminated with microscopic amounts feces. Symptoms of infection may include sudden abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, headache, dark urine, and/or vomiting often followed by yellowing of the skin and eyes" (Food Safety News, 2018).
This month, the disease appears to stem from a Red Lobster restaurant in Novi, Michigan. A restaurant employee who was diagnosed with the infection had been serving food and drinks for a month before stopping his exposure to restaurant-goers and fellow employees. Situations like this are not uncommon for Michigan, as just last month, a 7-Eleven worker was also diagnosed with Hepatitis A, and had continued working for an extended period of time. All visitors of the store were told to call the health department and undergo medical examination to ensure that the infection does not continue to spread.
As you formulate ideas in how to more effectively combat this issue, I encourage you to consider some of the following questions:
- Should there be increased standards for health of restaurant and convinience store employees?
- If so, what should be implemented? How can we ensure that these employees aren't exposing others?
- What can citizens do to stay healthy and keep their families safe?
- What should the state be doing in terms of further prevention and notifying the public?
- How should restaurant owners deal with this outbreak?
If there are any questions, don't hesitate to reach out, and I look forward to reading your responses!