The New Jersey Department of Health late Thursday ruled out a possible second case of Hepatitis A that had reportedly been identified since the initial case of a food service worker from Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering in Hamilton Township. According to Mayor Kelly Yaede and the Hamilton Township Division of Health, a series of tests conducted at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital – Hamilton determined that the second individual highlighted in earlier media reports was not infected with Hepatitis A. After a first blood test (that was eventually deemed to be a “false positive” result), two separate tests conducted by the hospital’s emergency room staff, in consultation with their infectious disease team, came back as negative (indicating that the patient did not have Hepatitis A). Therefore, at this time, the only confirmed individual in this case determined to have Hepatitis A is the original employee of Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering. The township has set up a makeshift clinic to administer Hepatitis A vaccines inside the Colonial Volunteer Fire Company. Any residents who ate at Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering in Hamilton between Nov. 10 and Dec. 1 are being encouraged to get vaccinated.
Health officer Jeff Plunkett said that the employee was hospitalized last week. He added that the virus can be spread to others for two weeks before a person develops symptoms and for a week after that. Anyone who ate at, or had catered food from, the restaurant between Nov. 10 and Dec. 1 could be at risk for Hepatitis A if they have not been previously vaccinated. “It is contagious through the oral route when you ingest food so it’s a possibility that … you could contract the virus if he was handling your food at the time,” Plunkett said. Unvaccinated individuals who ate at the restaurant should receive an injection of immune globulin or Hepatitis A vaccine. Both can prevent an infection if given within 14 days of exposure. Starting Tuesday morning, Dec. 2, Hamilton residents can contact the township’s health division at (609) 890-3884. Uninsured Hamilton residents may call the health division for an appointment. Anyone who ate at the Hamilton restaurant who has concerns or develops symptoms should call a doctor, officials said. The symptoms of Hepatitis A include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and dark urine and jaundice. Mild cases of Hepatitis A can last two weeks or less, while more severe cases can last four to six weeks.