Your local mall, the grocery store, even at your local fair, free food and drink samples abound. While you may recall stories about the risk of spoilage, there’s a more real fear: Hepatitis A.
Unlike Hepatitis C, Hepatitis A is less serious, and is spread by fecal matter (i.e. not washing hands). Hepatitis A symptoms range from mild to serious—it’s more of a problem for people who are older and/or have pre-existing liver problems: kids might not show symptoms, some people might get nausea and diarrhea, but people who already have liver problems might need to see a doctor.
Hepatitis A rates are declining, but there’s still a large correlation between outbreaks and food service workers (or just anyone who handles food, like a certain North Dakota priest/communion wafers). Currently, Indianapolis residents who visited Teavana are being warned that they may have been exposed to Hepatitis A.
Many places have managed to reduce Hepatitis A rates by requiring that food service workers get vaccinated, and for kids to get vaccinated (since it’s easier to spread when you don’t know you have it).
But you should always think carefully about where you eat and the hygiene around you. And for freak accidents, make sure you’re supporting your immune system to stand up to it!
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