Modified: October 2, 2018 8:15am
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined today by Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein to announce the recent identification of the Hepatitis A virus in a local restaurant worker following a disease investigation that was launched after the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) received reports of three new Hepatitis A infections among Erie County residents.
Following an epidemiological investigation including an inspection of the eatery and interviews of the restaurant owner and staff who work there, an employee who handles food at Doino’s Pizzeria Bar & Grille on Harlem Road in Cheektowaga was identified as being positive for Hepatitis A. The establishment has been notified of the potential exposure and the owner was advised to send any staff reporting of being ill for immediate Hepatitis A evaluation before returning to work. In addition, the Erie County Department of Health is providing the Hepatitis A vaccine to the employees.
As a result of this potential exposure, ECDOH is advising anyone who ate food as a dine-in or takeout customer at Doino’s Pizzeria Bar & Grille (2709 Harlem Road, Cheektowaga) between Aug. 20, 2018 and Sept. 3, 2018 to monitor themselves and their families for symptoms for 50 days since consuming the food and to seek medical evaluation for Hepatitis A if they develop symptoms of this infection.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A can include:
• Loss of appetite
• Abdominal pain
• Dark urine
• Clay-colored stools
• Joint pain
• Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
“We have seen a significant increase this year in the number of reported Hepatitis A cases that had any number of the risk factors,” said Dr. Burstein. “As a comparison, for the years 2015 through 2017 there were between two to four new cases of Hepatitis A infections per year reported to us. So far in 2018 through the month of September there have been 20 new cases of Hepatitis A infection and we still have three months still remaining this calendar year. We strongly believe that these 20 cases are just the tip of the iceberg and there are more cases in the community that do not have typical Hepatitis A symptoms or have mild symptoms so they have either not sought medical evaluation and have not yet been identified.”
“Since Hepatitis A is a vaccine preventable disease and we are seeing this significant increase in new Hepatitis A infections, we are recommending today that all Erie County residents who have not been fully immunized with the Hepatitis A vaccine to complete the Hepatitis A vaccine series,” said Poloncarz. “The Hepatitis A vaccine is very safe and very effective. The vaccines should be available at most primary care providers, occupational health care offices, and travel clinics.”
For more information:
About the Erie County Health Department, visit http://www2.erie.gov/health/
About Hepatitis A, visit http://www2.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=hepatitis-faqs
Facts about Hepatitis A:
• Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can range from no symptoms at all, to a mild illness lasting a few weeks, to a severe illness lasting several months. Although rare, hepatitis A can cause death in some people.
• Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. This can happen from eating at a restaurant, sharing food or drink, or eating when traveling in one of the many countries outside the United States with a high Hepatitis A infection rate.
• People who are most at risk of Hepatitis A include:
- People with direct contact with someone who has a hepatitis A infection. This can occur up to 2 weeks before the infected person develops any symptoms, so you may not be aware of your exposure at the time.
- Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common, which include most countries outside the United States. More information is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web site.
- Men who have sexual contact with men,
- People who use drugs, both injection and non-injection drugs, and
- Homeless individuals