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Health Center Pays County for Outbreak

Trinity Regional Health System announced this week that it has paid Rock Island County $80,000 to help reimburse unanticipated expenses related to a hepatitis A outbreak traced to the Milan, Ill, McDonald’s restaurant this summer. 

In early August, a Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department investigation concluded that the Trinity Regional Health System and Metropolitan Medical Laboratory had failed to report cases of hepatitis A to the local health department as promptly as required by law.  One of those cases was that of a Milan McDonald’s worker who prepared food at the restaurant while infectious.

At least 32 people who had become ill with hepatitis A infections after eating food prepared at the Milan McDonald’s were treated at Trinity Medical Center in Rock Island, Ill.  The Rock Island County Public Health Department held shot clinics, where immune globulin injections or hepatitis A vaccine were administered to an additional 5,324 Quad City-area residents to prevent the further spread of the liver disease. 

The Rock Island County spent an estimated $159,000 on the outbreak investigation and shot clinics.  Rock Island County originally sought $50,000 from Trinity.  Trinity’s payment of $80,000 includes a Rock Island County agreement that it will not seek further financial contributions to pay for vaccination clinics.

Kathleen Cunningham, Trinity’s vice president of hospital operations, commented, “Trinity is committed to the ongoing success of public health programs in our community and values the role that the Rock Island County Public Health Department plays on keeping our community healthy.”

Hepatitis A is a communicable disease that spreads from person to person through a “fecal – oral route.”  Individuals infected with hepatitis A generally do not exhibit symptoms of infection during their peak time of infectivity – the two weeks prior to illness – and food handlers can contaminate food if they do not practice proper hand washing.

The Milan McDonald’s restaurant has not yet reimbursed the Rock Island County Public Health Department for expenses incurred due to the restaurant’s role in the outbreak. 

Several individuals who became ill with hepatitis A after eating at the Milan McDonald’s have sued the McDonald’s corporation for damages.  In addition, a class-action lawsuit was filed against McDonald’s and the owners of the Milan restaurant on behalf of all individuals who ate food prepared at the restaurant and received either a hepatitis A vaccination or immune globulin injection to prevent hepatitis A infection. 

© Food Safety News