The Suffolk County Health Department is looking to put the brakes on an outbreak of hepatitis A that has put more than 6,750 patrons of The Driver’s Seat Restaurant in Southampton, NY at risk. The warning affects those who ate there between Aug. 6-Aug. 20.
According to Grace Kelly-McGovern, a Health Department spokeswoman, the virus was traced to a seasonal waiter who was being treated at an out-of-area hospital last week. She also stated that the restaurant, which serves 400-450 meals a day and employs a staff of 40, is “working very closely with her department.”
In addition, The Driver’s Seat manager Corinne Rueb stressed that the waiter did not touch any of the food being served. She also noted “its highly, highly unlikely that if the rest of the staff did not get the virus—and we all eat the food—people patronizing the restaurant would get it.”
Meanwhile, the Health Department is offering free preventative shots at Southampton Hospital or at health department offices at 3500 Sunrise Hwy. Great River, NY. Treatments include globulin or vaccinations, to all who were exposed within 2 weeks of exposure to the Hep A virus (aka HAV). They are, however, not recommending shots to anyone exposed between Aug. 16-20, stating they would not be effective “because 10 days have already lapsed since the infection was announced.”
Unlike other forms of hepatitis, HAV infection doesn’t result in chronic infection or chronic liver disease. However, 10–15% of patients might experience a relapse of symptoms during the 6 months after acute illness. Acute liver failure from Hepatitis A is rare. Health officials also noted that the danger for symptomatic infection is directly related to age, “with approximately 80% of adults having symptoms compatible with acute viral hepatitis and the majority of children having either asymptomatic or unrecognized infection.”
Symptoms for Hepatitis A include Nausea and loss of appetite, stomach pain, and dark colored urine and feces, which typically appear 2- 6 weeks after exposure, and usually last under 60 days, although some people remain sick for as long as 6 months.
Fort more information, readers can call the Suffolk County Health Department hotline at 631 787-2200 between 9 am and 4 pm.