Hepatitis A detected in Nyack restaurant; over 300 receive free vaccines

urlA confirmed case of acute Hepatitis A was identified in a food handler at the La Fontana restaurant in Nyack, the county Health Dept. revealed last week. Exposure to the Hepatitis A virus could have occurred between March 19 and April 1, 2014 from the food handler, who had acquired the virus while overseas.

The Health Department gave a free Hepatitis A vaccine to over 300 restaurant patrons and employees who were at the restaurant March 29, 30 or April 1, over the weekend at the Rockland County Fire Training Center, 35 Firemens Memorial Dr in Pomona. The window of time for the vaccine to be effective, 14 days, has now passed.

The Health Department  encourages those who were not vaccinated, but visited the restaurant between March 19 and April 1 to see a doctor if symptoms develop.

Symptoms usually appear two to six weeks after becoming infected and may include the following:

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • grey-colored stools
  • dark urine
  • joint pain
  • jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin)

Symptoms are more likely to occur in adults than in children. They usually last less than two months, although some people who have chronic liver disease or a weakened immune system could experience more severe illness and require hospitalization. Hepatitis A is very rarely fatal (fewer than 1 percent of cases).

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus. It is spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth (even though it might look clean) that has been contaminated with traces of fecal matter from an infected person. Most people recover within a few weeks with bed rest and by avoiding alcoholic beverages. There are no special medicines or antibiotics that can be used to treat a person once the symptoms appear.

Most patrons of La Fontana expressed confidence in the restaurant despite the unfortunate situation.

For more information about Hepatitis A, please contact the Division of Disease Control & Prevention at 845-364-2997 during business hours or visit www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/A/index.htm.