Local restaurant reports case of hepatitis A

April 8, 2013

Hannah Cohen for WSN

Alta, a Mediterranean bistro located in the West Village, has come under scrutiny after reports revealed that a restuarant food handler tested positive for hepatitis A.

Customers who ate dessert at Alta between March 23 to April 2 have been warned by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to get the hepatitis A vaccine as a precaution.

“We are working closely with the health department to ensure the safety of our customers. This is an isolated incident, and the infected employee is no longer on premises,” said Alta owner Christopher Chesnutt in a press statement.

Yesterday, the univeresity sent an email notifying students about the Health Department’s investigation into the restaurant.

The email provided students and faculty with locations where they could receive a hepatitis A vaccine. The university recommended any patrons to the restaurant within the specified time period to receive the vaccine.

“There is currently no ‘outbreak’ but rather an isolated individual case in an employee at the Alta restaurant,” said Carlo Ciotoli, associate vice president for student health and executive director at the NYU Student Health Center. “As such there is no reason for there to be widespread concern or worry among members of the NYU community.”

When asked for comment, three Alta employees threatened to escort a Washington Square News reporter off the premises.

Restaurant patrons and employees are also being offered free vaccinations, which will be available today at the Chelsea Health Center from 9 to 5 p.m.

According to the Health Center, the vaccine is an inactivated virus available in both the pediatric formulation and the adult formulation. People age 18 and younger are given the pediatric formulation and people 19 and older are given the adult formulation. Patrons and employees who are unable to get the vaccine should receive immune globulin.

“We are asking these restaurant patrons to get this vaccination as a precautionary measure,”  New York City health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said in a statement. “If people experience symptoms, they should see a doctor immediately. This incident serves as an important reminder to always wash your hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of disease.”

Hepatitis A is most likely contracted from contaminated food or water from someone who is already infected. Symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or discomfort, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, dark urine, muscle pain and yellowing of the skin and eyes.

This warning applies to approximately 450 customers who ate dessert at the restaurant between those time periods, as reported by The New York Times. Anyone who believes they may have visited the restaurant during those dates can call 311 for more information or 212-443-9999 for the NYU Wellness Exchange.

Neela Qadir is a deputy university editor. Additional reporting by Kevin Burns. Email them at cstate@nyunews.com.

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