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Worker at Buffalo pizza place tests positive for hepatitis A

A case of hepatitis A has been confirmed in Erie County.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein on Friday said a kitchen worker at Platinum Pizza, 1575 Broadway, tested positive for hepatitis A. Burstein said the health department was informed about what was then considered a potential hepatitis case on Tuesday. An investigation and interviews conducted by the department's epidemiologist followed, she said.

"The investigation, along with inspections and interviews by our Division of Environmental Health sanitarian found that the individual handled food during Thursday, Aug. 8, through Sunday, Aug. 11, when this individual was contagious and able to transmit hepatitis A," Burstein said.

"We notified Platinum Pizza of the potential exposure and advised the restaurant to send any ill staff to a health care provider for a hepatitis A evaluation ASAP," she added.

Burstein estimated that the business serves about 75 pizzas a day. She said the restaurant has a staff of about 10 to 12 workers who were informed that they were required to receive a hepatitis A vaccine before they could return to work.

"As of today, we have no reports of other employees of this restaurant who were ill with a hepatitis A-like illness in the past couple of months, or who are currently ill," she said.

Burstein advised anyone who ate at Platinum Pizza during the period that the worker was deemed to get vaccinated.

To assist those who may have had some exposure, the health department is offering a hepatitis A immunization clinic from 1 to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the Erie County Training and Operations Center, 3359 Broadway in Cheektowaga. The free vaccines are only for those who ate at or from Platinum Pizza, Burstein said.

There also will be limited shuttle service available from the parking lot at St. John Kanty Catholic Church, 101 Swinburne St.

Hepatitis A is a disease marked by fatigue, poor appetite, abdominal pain, nausea, jaundice and dark urine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It typically runs its course within a few weeks to a couple of months. Symptoms often occur about four weeks after exposure, according to the CDC. Most children younger than 6 are symptom-free.

Hepatitis A is typically transmitted when people eat or drink products that have been contaminated by small amounts of feces from someone already infected with hepatitis A or, in some cases, have sex with someone who is infected. This disease is more common in developing countries with poor sanitation and is not transmitted through casual contact.

Children have been routinely vaccinated against hepatitis A since 1994.

This year, Erie County has immunized 392 people against hepatitis A, Burstein said.

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