Officials: Patrons Who Ate Dessert B/T March 23 To April 2 Get Vaccinated

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — City health officials are urging some recent patrons of a Manhattan restaurant to see their doctor and get vaccinated because of possible exposure to Hepatitis A.

The New York City Department of Health 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.”

“The best option for everybody is to see their primary care doctor. We are also offering vaccinations at the Department of Health Chelsea Health Center, which is located at Ninth Avenue in Manhattan,” Dr. Jay Varma, Deputy Commissioner For Disease Control at the NYC Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene, told 1010 WINS Friday night.

Restaurant manager Manny Solano told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon an employee who prepared pastries had the illness, but is already feeling better.

“That employee traveled to Mexico and was infected in Mexico,” 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.

In the meantime, all employees were getting the vaccine. Solano said while no one has felt sick, they are not taking any chances.

Varma said the owners of the restaurant are cooperating and estimated that 3,000 people may have visited and about 15 percent, or 450 people, may have had dessert during the time period of the possible exposure.

“The restaurant owners have been cooperating fully with the Health Department. They’ve allowed our investigators to interview the staff there, to inspect the restaurant, food-handling practices and to provide us with contact information for people who ate there,” Varma said.

Customers like “Diana” said the Mediterranean Tapas restaurant is doing the right thing.

“I think it’s a good precaution,” she said.

Others said they would have liked more warning from the restaurant and not from the Health Department by way of reporters.

Health officials said Hepatitis A is spread by putting something in the mouth “that has been contaminated with traces of fecal matter from an infected person.”

They said symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin), fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea. It is fatal in less than one percent of cases, Rincon reported.

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