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Kwik Trip Hepatitis Alert Canceled

WAUSAU, Wis. -- The Marathon County (Wis.) Health Department canceled a contagious disease alert Monday, hours after expressing concerns that hundreds of Kwik Trip customers may have been exposed to hepatitis A, reported the Associated Press.

A store clerk who was believed to have gotten ill from the disease didn't have it, said Judy Omernik, manager of the Health Department's disease prevention program. Additional testing Monday did not confirm the first diagnosis made Thursday, she said.

"I am certainly hoping that relief is what most people are feeling right now. It certainly is an appropriate response," she said.

Omernik said she was unsure why there was confusion over the diagnosis.

Early Monday morning, the Health Department issued a release urging people who bought single-serve bagels, cookies, doughnuts, brownies, bars or hot dogs from the Kwik Trip on Grand Avenue in Wausau, Wis., from July 12-21 to get a hepatitis A immune globulin shot.

Omernik said 1,700 to 2,000 people potentially could have been exposed to the viral infection, which can be passed from person to person.

The Health Department had scheduled free clinics through Wednesday to give the shots. By 4 p.m. Monday, the department had canceled the immunization clinics.

"People are not at risk. The worker was not contagious, and people have not been exposed," Omernik said.

Gary Gonczy, a spokesman for La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip, which has 317 stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, said it was unclear how the confusion over the diagnosis occurred. "I am sure there is someplace in the system that had some failings," he said. "We are not trying to find blame."

Gonczy said the Health Department worked in the best interests of protecting the public based on the available information.

The store clerk was ill and under medical care, but it was unknown exactly what caused her sickness, Omernik said. The worker was primarily responsible for food preparation and packaging.

Hepatitis A, a liver disease, is spread through personal contact and is caused by a virus. Symptoms include severe fatigue, poor appetite, fever, diarrhea, jaundice and vomiting.

Symptoms of the disease can show up in people anywhere from 15 to 50 days after they are infected, officials said.
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