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Multi-state response underway for restaurant Hepatitis A cases

While continuing to urge customers of a restaurant in New York’s Westchester County to seek post-exposure treatment for Hepatitis A, county officials declared they “feel very confident that’s it’s safe to eat at bartaco.”

Four people who ate at the restaurant have been confirmed with Hepatitis A infections. Post-exposure treatment campaigns are underway in New York and Connecticut.

More than 3,000 people have received the post-exposure injections, County Executive Rob Astorino said at a news conference Monday. He said health inspectors cleared the restaurant to reopen Thursday.

A day earlier the restaurant’s operators closed the bartaco location in Port Chester, NY, after public health officials learned an employee had worked there while infectious.

As of Monday, county officials were saying anyone who ate at the restaurant from Oct. 16 through 23 should receive the post-exposure treatment for Hepatitis A. However, the treatment is only effective if given within two weeks of exposure. For a list of free treatment locations, please click here.

Also, anyone who ate or drank anything at bartaco from Aug. 22 through Oct. 15 should watch for symptoms of Hepatitis A infection. It can take up to 50 days for symptoms to develop following exposure.

“While these individuals are outside the window to receive preventive treatment, they should contact their health care provider immediately if they experience symptoms so that anyone they may have exposed can receive preventive treatment,” according to a notice posted Monday by the Westchester County health department.

The restaurant is also voluntarily vaccinating all 136 employees, according to health department officials. Pam Ritz, a bartaco spokeswoman, said a dedicated phone line has been set up at 844-617-8242 for anyone with questions about the situation.

Hepatitis A can be transmitted by consuming food or drinks that have been handled by an infected person. It may also be spread from person to person by ingesting something that has been contaminated with the stool of a person with Hepatitis A.

Symptoms can include fatigue, fever, poor appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine, light colored stool and the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.

“There are no special medications used to treat a person once symptoms appear, but Hepatitis A transmission to others can be prevented through proper handwashing,” said Dr. Sherlita Amler, Westchester County health commissioner.

In 2016, Westchester had a total of six confirmed cases of Hepatitis A. Through September 2017, Westchester had five cases.

The health department will offer preventive treatment at the Health Department Clinic, 134 Court Street, White Plains, NY, as follows:

  • Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for those who dined October 17 – 23;
  • Nov. 1 from 9 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. for those who dined October 18 – 23;
  • Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. for those who dined October 19 – 23;
  • Nov. 3 from 9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for those who dined October 20 – 23;
  • Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for those who dined on October 23.

Anyone under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent/guardian to provide consent.

Advance registration for the county preventive clinics is required. To register, go to www.health.ny.gov/gotoclinic/60. If you do not have internet access or need more information, call 211 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.  Restaurant patrons with exposure can also be treated by their own health care provider.

For those looking to receive preventive treatment in Connecticut, call to schedule an appointment at:

  • Costco, 779 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, CT, 203-822 2003
  • Rite Aid Pharmacy, 190 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT, 203-838-6141
  • Greenwich Hospital, Greenwich, CT, 203-863-4500
  • The City of Stamford’s Health Department Clinic at 137 Henry Street 203-977-5385

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