The Montgomery County Office of Public Health in Pennsylvania announced today the temporary closure of Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in West Norriton in relation to a deadly hepatitis A virus outbreak.
County officials say the restaurant will be closed until further notice while the investigation continues.
Authorities believe the outbreak began in late November, and current data suggests that the outbreak “no longer presents a risk.” However, officials are continuing to look into the situation.
Per standard public health protocols, the county health department coordinated with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to issue a health advisory on Wednesday, but the restaurant was not named at that time. The county continues to receive additional information to support its investigation and identify additional potential cases.
Investigation conducted to date suggests the exposure occurred in late November and no longer presents a risk. However, additional investigation into probable cases resulting from the health advisory associated with this outbreak are underway.
It can take up to 50 days for symptoms to begin and then patients must be tested, verified and reported to health officials before they can be added to official tallies.
At this time, 11 cases are under investigation, with nine confirmed cases of hepatitis A infection and two potential cases. Of the nine confirmed cases, seven patients have been hospitalized. To date, one death is confirmed and one additional death is under investigation.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection. The virus is generally spread when people come into microscopic amounts of stool from an infected person through food, drink or an object. The disease can also be spread through close contact. It can be prevented by vaccination.
Typical symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. A person can transmit the virus to others up to two weeks before and one week after symptoms appear.
Hepatitis A is preventable through vaccination. Hepatitis A vaccine has been recommended for school children for many years, and one dose of the vaccine has been required for entry into kindergarten and first grade since 2014. Most adults are likely not vaccinated but may have been if they received vaccinations prior to traveling internationally.
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