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article imageHepatitis scare at NYC restaurant prompts free vaccinations

By Leigh Goessl     Apr 9, 2013 in Health
New York - A recent hepatitis scare at a NYC restaurant prompted officials to urge vaccinations for those who dined at the eatery after an employee learned she was infected. Over the course of 10 days hundreds of people were potentially exposed.
New York City health officials are promoting patrons of a specific restaurant to get vaccinated for hepatitis A. According to CBS News, officials say hundreds of people may have been exposed.
Diners at the Alta Restaurant, located in NYC's Greenwich Village, are being offered free vaccinations for hepatitis A. NYC health officials urge the immunization as a "precautionary measure", according to a Health Department press release.
One of the employees, who prepares pastries, learned she was infected with the highly contagious infection. Customers who visited the eatery between March 23 and April 2 and ate desserts are reportedly at risk.
“We are asking these restaurant patrons to get this vaccination as a precautionary measure,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “If people experience symptoms, they should see a doctor immediately. This incident serves as an important reminder to always wash your hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of disease.”
Reportedly, the employee had recently taken a trip to Mexico where she contracted the infection. Once she learned of her infection, she immediately notified her employer, according to CBS News. She was removed from her position of preparing foods at the restaurant, according to its owner, who says about 3,000 people visited his establishment during the 10-day window, with an estimated 450 ordering dessert.
“We are working closely with the Health Department to ensure the safety of our customers,” said Christopher Chesnutt, owner of Alta restaurant, at the time of the discovery. “This is an isolated incident and the infected employee is no longer on premises.”
No illnesses associated with this exposure have been documented at this time. The restaurant has been since cleared to open.
“That employee traveled to Mexico and was infected with Hepatitis A,” manager Manny Solano told CBS New York. “We just got a letter that she’s been cleared already to go back to work.”
City officials also say the restaurant's patrons can call 311 for more information, noting that individuals who have received two doses of the hepatitis vaccine do not need another.
Free hepatitis A vaccinations were being given at the Chelsea Health Center on April 6-8. It is unclear at the time of reporting if additional days are added. According to CNN, 200 people received the vaccine over the weekend.
Health officials are encouraging the restaurant's customers to visit their doctor or see the health department's clinic.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC):
Hepatitis A, caused by infection with the Hepatitis A virus (HAV), has an incubation period of approximately 28 days (range: 15–50 days). HAV replicates in the liver and is shed in high concentrations in feces from 2 weeks before to 1 week after the onset of clinical illness. HAV infection produces a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection or chronic liver disease.
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