West Village Restaurant Remains Open After Hepatitis Scare
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The health scare persisted Saturday morning, after city officials announced that patrons at a West Village restaurant may have been exposed to hepatitis A.
As CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian reported, the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene warned that thousands could be at risk, and has been taking measures to protect the city.
The department said Friday that anyone who ate dessert at the Alta Restaurant, located at 64 W. 10th St., between March 23 to April 2 should get a Hepatitis A vaccine as a “precautionary measure.”
Alta has an A rating from the Health Department. But on Thursday afternoon, manager Manny Solano received an alarming call from one of the employees.
“That employee traveled to Mexico and was infected with Hepatitis A,” Solano said. “We just got a letter that she’s been cleared already to go back to work.”
The Health Department told Alta to close the pastry operation, but not the restaurant.
“The Health Department inspected yesterday and today as well…and they gave us a green light to have an operating restaurant,” Solano told reporters, including CBS 2′s Dave Carlin.
The department said during the 10-day period when the employee was working, about 3,000 people ate at Alta, and about 450 people had a dessert the infected employee prepared. Anyone who may have been exposed should be vaccinated as a precaution by Monday, the department said.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus. It spreads from person to person by putting something in your mouth that is contaminated by the feces of an infected person.
The key to preventing the disease is good personal hygiene. But those who do get infected can expect to suffer from jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and fever.
On Friday night, patrons continued to frequent Alta.
“I didn’t know it had gone on,” one diner said. “I guess I would have been concerned had I known before. I probably wouldn’t have gone in. I don’t know.”
In the meantime, all employees were getting the vaccine. Solano said while no one has felt sick, they are not taking any chances.
But there was not a single sign on or notice on the premises telling customers why pastries had been discontinued.
“It seems a little suspicious that the day the press arrives, the oven is mysteriously broken for all dessert,” said patron Martine Seiden of Morningside Heights.
The hepatitis scare also drew some alarm among Yelp reviewers. Two critics left single-star reviews as a result of the scare on Friday, and one placed the restaurant on a list titled, “Places I will never go to.”
What do you think of how the hepatitis threat was handled? Leave your comments below…