Erie County (NY) health officials announced Sunday that hepatitis A vaccination clinics would be activated in response to a hepatitis A case in an employee of a Buffalo-area restaurant.

Image/Video Screen Shot
Image/Video Screen Shot

The case was detected in a server at Casa di Pizza on 477 Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo.

“The county is activating these response clinics to ensure any dining room patron who may have been exposed to hepatitis A can speak to qualified health care professionals about their chance of being infected and receive an immunization shot if necessary. It is another example of how our Department of Health safeguards the public’s health,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “While the risk of transmission is low, anyone who may have dined at the restaurant during the time in question should check their immunization status and come to the clinics if necessary.”

Dine-in patrons of Casa-di-Pizza during a specific time frame may have been exposed to hepatitis A virus,” stated Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. “Customers in the restaurant or banquet rooms are considered potentially exposed, not individuals who ordered take-out food or consumed food or drink from the bar. The risk of actually acquiring a hepatitis A infection from consuming food or drink at Casa-di-Pizza is extremely low,” emphasized Dr. Burstein. “Persons who have already completed the hepatitis A vaccine series are not at risk of developing hepatitis A virus infection from this potential exposure.”

Patrons of the restaurant, who consumed food/drinks on site on the following dates are candidates for Hepatitis A Vaccine or Immune Globulin: Monday, March 9, 2015 through Thursday, March 19, 2015.

The vaccination clinics will be held today, March 23 from 12 pm (noon) – 8:00 pm and Tuesday, March 24 8:00 am – 6:00 pm at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, 153 Franklin Street, Buffalo.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by a virus found in the stool or vomit of an infected person. It is spread when a person eats food or drinks water that has come in contact with infected stool or vomit. Symptoms may develop 15-50 days after initial infection and include loss of appetite, fever, sore muscles, nausea, vomiting, pain on the right side of the belly under the rib cage, jaundice (in severe cases), dark colored urine and light or clay-colored stool.

Children tend to have more mild illness than adults; very young children may have no symptoms at all. In almost all cases, Hepatitis A goes away on its own. Illness can be prevented by practicing proper hand hygiene and always washing hands thoroughly with warm water and soap after using the washroom and before eating.

A safe and effective Hepatitis A vaccine is available which reduces the risk of illness provided vaccination is received within 14 days of coming into contact with the virus.

“The health risk to the citizens of Erie County is very low,”Burstein noted. “We are taking these actions with an abundance of caution to ensure the public health safety of our residents.”