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From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein 

Date: MARCH 12, 2019 


CONTACT: Daniel Meyer


Phone: (716) 858-2890 



Poloncarz, Burstein point out ongoing rise in number of reported hepatitis A cases


ERIE COUNTY, NY— Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined today by Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein to announce that the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) identified a new case of hepatitis A virus in a local restaurant worker. A disease investigation was launched on March 11th directly after receiving notification of the suspected case. 


Following laboratory testing, interviews and a restaurant inspection, an employee who handles food at Destiny’s on Fillmore Ave in Buffalo was identified with the hepatitis A virus. The establishment has been notified of the potential exposure and the owner was advised to send staff reporting hepatitis A virus related symptoms for medical evaluation before returning to work. ECDOH has sent staff to the restaurant to vaccinate employees. Destiny’s will be subject to additional inspections over the coming weeks and is complying with ECDOH recommendations. 


As a result of this potential hepatitis A virus exposure, ECDOH is advising anyone who ate food as a dine-in or takeout customer at Destiny’s (2383 Fillmore Ave, Buffalo, NY 14214) between Feb. 27, 2019 and March 11, 2019 to receive a free hepatitis A vaccine from the Erie County Department of Health to prevent potentially exposed individuals from becoming infected.  The vaccine clinics will be held at Elim Christian Fellowship Church. 


Where: Elim Christian Fellowship, 70 Chalmers Ave, Buffalo, NY 14214 


When: Wednesday March 13 from 3PM to 8PM and Thursday March 14th from 3PM to 8PM 

Those who ate at Destiny’s between Feb. 9th 2019 and Feb. 26th 2019 may have been exposed but will not benefit from hepatitis A vaccine to prevent infection from this exposure and are encouraged to monitor themselves and their families for symptoms for 50 days after consuming the food. Those who develop symptoms suggestive of hepatitis A virus should seek medical evaluation.


Symptoms of hepatitis A virus can include: 

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)


“Over the past year we have seen a significant increase 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 reported. In 2018 there were 32 new cases and so far in 2019 there were 6 reported cases of hepatitis A. We strongly believe that these identified cases are just the tip of the iceberg and there are more cases in the community that have mild or atypical hepatitis A symptoms so they have not sought medical evaluation and have not yet been identified.”


“Since hepatitis A virus is a vaccine preventable disease and we are seeing a 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 primary care providers, occupational health care offices, and travel clinics. In addition, over the past few months, I have authorized the Department of Health to provide hepatitis A vaccinations to at-risk individuals in the community to decrease the risk of the disease spreading.”


For more information:


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 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


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