WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- About 650 diners at the Salt Lake City New Yorker Restaurant were possibly exposed to hepatitis A virus after a food handler was found to be infected with the disease.
- The Health Department warns anyone who dined at the restaurant between July 25 and August 15 to get tested.
- Those who are not vaccinated were advised to watch out for symptoms until October 3, when the window of incubation will have passed.
A public warning was issued Monday by the Salt Lake City Health Department after about 650 people were possibly exposed to the hepatitis A virus while dining at the New Yorker Restaurant.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, anyone who dined at said restaurant between July 25 and August 15 could have been exposed — and it is too late now to receive an emergency hepatitis A vaccine.
The warning was issued after it was discovered that one of the restaurant’s food handlers had been infected with the disease during the said time period, potentially spreading the virus through the food.
The employee’s case is apparently connected to the Salt Lake City County hepatitis outbreak which has been occurring since mid-2017, the SLC Health Department believes. Sources say that at this point, those who received two full doses of the hepatitis vaccine prior to the potential exposure are the only ones considered safe.
Meanwhile, anyone not vaccinated should be promptly tested and should watch out for signs of the disease through October 3, when the window of incubation will have passed.
The symptoms were listed in a news release by the health department Monday: “… low fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and yellow skin and eyes. The incubation period for hepatitis A is two to seven weeks, so potentially affected customers should watch for symptoms until October 3.”
While the number of people exposed could be alarming, the Mayo Clinic assures that most people infected with the contagious liver ailment recover completely. It is also not unusual for the virus to be often spread in restaurants since food contamination is one of the major vehicles for infection.
According to the Mayo Clinic, hepatitis A causes liver inflammation and compromised liver function, but mild cases do not require treatment.
The contamination in Salt Lake City is also not the first time that restaurant patrons were exposed to the disease because of contaminated workers. In June, WCNC reported that a Hardee’s restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina, was charged with multiple lawsuits after around 4,000 people were exposed to the virus. However, in this case, people were able to receive an emergency hepatitis A vaccine as the contamination was discovered earlier.
The symptoms of hepatitis A may appear within a few weeks of exposure and may also disappear in the same amount of time, according to the Mayo Clinic. Rare cases of more severe hepatitis A can take months to clear up.