BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. ̵
The number of hepatitis A reported in northwest Georgia
Channel 2 Action News Tennessee has learned it's way through Georgia and into Florida.
Northwest Georgia accounts for 43 percent of the state's recent outbreak.
We obtained a 10-county breakdown from health officials. Top of the list with 34.
"People who do not use their hands after the contaminated surfaces, contaminated food and contaminate drugs themselves," said customer Kasi Flynn.  That's why much of the health department's outreach has spilled into restaurants. This week we told you about a Cartersville Willy's employee who tested positive.
"I think people need to understand this can explode into an even bigger outbreak," said health director dr. Zachary Taylor, who oversees the north and northwest Georgia Health District.
Taylor points out drug users are at a risk for the virus.
The Health Department is offering free vaccinations in the area.
"Food service workers may or may not be at an increased risk but a food service worker is coming down with hepatitis."
But health officials said they can not force employees to get vaccinations, only push for it.
"Their employers and "Taylor said."
Health officials also encourage customers to get theirs.
There have been 300 reported cases in Georgia this year.
The number of restaurant owners is low but this is an important reminder that food safety rules are now more important than ever.
Food handlers are required
We searched our archives and in the past year alone, we covered 14 restaurants in six local counties, penalized for not having soap at their sinks.
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