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Outbreak News

Health officials warn of Hepatitis

The Leader Staff

ELMIRA | Patrons could be at risk from a food worker at Maple Lawn Dairy Family Restaurant who was recently diagnosed with Hepatitis A.

Anyone who ate at the restaurant, located on Maple Avenue in Elmira, between Sept. 26 and Oct. 10 may have been exposed, the Chemung County Department of Health announced Saturday.

The Heath Department is advising a trip to the doctor for anyone who ate at the restaurant between those dates that is experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, fever, poor appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine or yellowing of skin and eyes.

A blood test can confirm if a person has contracted the illness.

At least three additional cases were identified last week, and all appear to have eaten at the restaurant in late Sept-ember or early October.

Hepatitis A has an incubation period of 28 days and is generally a mild illness that affects the liver, according to the Health Department.

The virus is found only in human feces. Hand washing and proper glove use by food workers usually prevents the transmission of the illness, the department said.

The County Health Depart-ment inspected the restaurant on Oct. 11, after the worker was diagnosed. After several more unannounced inspections, County Sanitarian Patricia Hall said "proper food handling procedures were in place and understood by the staff" at the restaurant.

Hall also imposed additional safety precautions at Maple Lawn Dairy Family Restaurant, but the Health Department found no reason to suspect further problems at the eatery. The investigation is ongoing.

There are no medicines or antibiotics to treat hepatitis A, the Health Department said. An injection of gamma globulin can possibly prevent the illness, but only if administered within 14 days of exposure.

It is possible for a person with the disease to show no symptoms.

The department said anyone who has contracted hepatitis A should avoid preparing food for others. Good personal hygiene and hand washing are "essential" to prevent the spread of the illness, according to the department.

For more information, contact the Health Department at 737-2028.

More on this outbreak: Maple Lawn Dairy Hepatitis A Outbreak

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