06/22/2015 16:42 EDT | Updated 06/22/2016 01:12 EDT

Alberta Health Services offers vaccine after food handler gets hepatitis A

STRATHMORE, Alta. - A restaurant worker in southern Alberta has tested positive for a viral liver disease that can cause severe illness.Alberta Health Services says the food handler at the Original Joe's Restaurant and Bar in Strathmore has hepatitis A.The agency says people who ate food there from June 9 to June 19 may have been exposed to the virus.Dr. Judy MacDonald, medical officer of health, says Alberta Health Services is offering hepatitis A vaccine to these patrons at clinics in Strathmore and Chestermere.The World Health Organization says the virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water, or through direct contact with an infectious person.It says hepatitis A infection does not cause chronic liver disease and is rarely fatal, but it can cause debilitating symptoms, including liver failure."While we believe the risk to the public is low, hepatitis A is a serious infection," MacDonald said in a release Monday."A vaccine administered within 14 days of exposure can greatly reduce the risk for patrons who consumed food at this location during this time frame."Alberta Health Services says symptoms of hepatitis A may include: fatigue; poor appetite; nausea and vomiting; abdominal pain and fever; dark-coloured urine, light-coloured stools, and yellowing of eyes and skin.Some people, especially young children, may get hepatitis A without noticing any symptoms.