Hepatitis Scare at NYC Restaurant Sparks Call for Vaccines

PHOTO: The city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that one employee working in the pastry kitch of the Alta restaurant in New York had been infected with Hepatitis A.
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Dessert is off the menu at one New York restaurant, after the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that one employee working in the pastry kitchen of the Alta restaurant had been infected with Hepatitis A.

Health department officials are urging patrons who ate dessert at the West Village restaurant between the dates of March 23 and April 2 to get vaccinated against the disease. The restaurant owner estimated that approximately 450 people ate dessert during those dates.

"This isolated incident has affected an employee who is no longer on the premises. That employee traveled to Mexico and was infected with Hepatitis A," the restaurant's manager, Manny Solano, told reporters Friday night.

Solano said all the restaurant's employees will be vaccinated by Monday.

The health department says currently no patrons have been reported to have been infected by the disease.

The city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene wil make free Hepatitis A vaccinations available for people who are concerned they were exposed to the virus.

"We are asking these restaurant patrons to get this vaccination as a precautionary measure," Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said in a statement. "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."

Hepatitis A is a liver disease and symptoms of the disease can include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea.

Even after the health scare, the restaurant was bustling Friday night with one patron telling ABC News station WABC-TV in New York, "If the health department already cleared it, I'm not really worried.

Currently the Alta restaurant has an "A" letter grade from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

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