When you are exposed to a virus like Hepatitis A, you are going to lose some time and maybe experience some pain in getting a shot to inoculate yourself against the virus.  More than 5,300 people took such preventive steps last year after they ate at a Milan, IL McDonald’s where employees were found exposing customers to Hepatitis A.

Now people unfortunate enough to dine at the Milan McDonald’s last year between June 1 and July 15 have the option of getting some reimbursement for their trouble as a $500,000 class action settlement is pending in Rock Island Country Circuit Court.

The Hepatitis A outbreak at the fast food restaurant located in the Quad Cities area of Iowa and Illinois last year spread the liver-threatening virus to at least 32 Milan McDonald’s customers and employees.

At a Sept. 16 hearing, the 14th Judicial Circuit Court of Rock Island County will decide whether to grant final approval to a proposed settlement of Patterson v. JKLM, Inc. d/b/a McDonald’s.  Parties in the class action suit are Cody Patterson, a Quad Cities resident acting on behalf of himself and others, and the McDonald’s franchise, owned by Kevin Murphy.

The class action settlement gives those individuals who had to get immunizations after exposure to the hepatitis A virus the option of sharing in the class action settlement in exchange for giving up future claims against the restaurant for exposure to the virus.

The class action settlement is only for individuals who were exposed to the virus but did not contract hepatitis A.  Most of the Milan McDonald’s customers who were exposed to the virus and later contracted hepatitis A have filed separate lawsuits against the restaurant. McDonald’s employees are not included in the class action.

After discovering the outbreak, Illinois and Rock Island County health officials advised McDonald’s customers who might have been exposed to get Hepatitis A vaccination shots.  McDonald’s customers were offered free inoculations at special clinic set up at Rock Island High School over seven days last July.

Hepatitis A causes an inflammation of the liver.   It is generally caused by the “hand-to-mouth” route.  Someone who does not wash his or her hands after using the restroom can spread the virus.

Illinois law prohibits food handlers with Hepatitis A from working during the contagious period, which runs from about two weeks before symptoms appear until about one week after the onset of jaundice.

Symptoms include yellowing of skin and whites of eyes, loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and dark colored urine.   Most people, with rest, recover in about a week.

Murphy claimed he did not know until July 13, 2009 that an employee with Hepatitis A had continued working.  At that point, health officials forced the restaurant to close for a couple of days.