SKOWHEGAN — State health officials on Tuesday warned of the threat of public exposure to hepatitis A after it was discovered that a deli worker at the Walmart in Skowhegan worked for two weeks this month while sick with the contagious liver disease.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a news release that the deli worker at the Walmart store at 60 Fairgrounds Market Place worked day shifts from the period of May 7 to 21, and warned that customers who purchased or ate food from the deli during that time could be at risk for infection.

“This applies only to food prepared in the deli during these dates and times,” the release said. “No other food or items were potentially contaminated.”

The disease is caused by the hepatitis A virus and is spread primarily through contaminated food or water, such as when an infected person with dirty hands prepares food or drinks for others.

Symptoms include fatigue, little or no appetite, stomach pain, nausea, dark-colored urine and jaundice. Sickness can be mild to severe, though most children younger than 6 have mild or no symptoms at all.

Robert Long, spokesperson for the Maine CDC, did not know how many deli customers there were over the two weeks this month. Messages to the Walmart corporate office were not returned Tuesday.


There are no known confirmed cases of a person contracting hepatitis A after visiting the deli, Long said.

Any infection can be prevented with a vaccine. Those who are exposed can avoid getting sick if they get the vaccine within two weeks of exposure, health officials said.

Officials recommend that anyone who purchased items from the deli during the two weeks discard the items and to get vaccinated if the items have already been consumed. Any employees who worked during those times in the deli are also encouraged to get vaccinated.

In addition to the virus being spread through contaminated food and water, it can also be passed through close personal contact, such as through sex, by caring for someone who is ill or by using drugs with others, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of hepatitis A begin to appear between 15 to 50 days after exposure. An infected person can spread the virus about two weeks before symptoms begin and for about a week after symptoms start.

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