NYC urges hepatitis vaccine for those who ate at Bronx eatery

Sept. 22, 2013 at 9:08 AM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- New York City health officials are urging all people who recently ate or worked at a Bronx Asian restaurant to get hepatitis A vaccines as soon as possible.

New Hawaii Sea Restaurant, a restaurant in the Bronx known for its "sushi pizza," was forced to close its doors at the direction of the city Health Department after one restaurant worker and four patrons were infected with hepatitis A, the New York Daily News reported Friday.

"We are asking all restaurant patrons and employees to get this vaccination as soon as possible," Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City health commissioner, told reporters. "If people experience symptoms, they should see a doctor immediately."

Any person who ate at New Hawaii Sea, either in-store, through catering or delivery, between Sept. 7-19 is considered at risk and is recommended to receive hepatitis A vaccine as soon as possible, Farley said. The city Health Department is sponsoring several hepatitis vaccine clinics.

Anybody who ate food from this restaurant before Sept. 7 should be evaluated if they have symptoms suggestive of infection, the Health Department said.

Health Department officials said they are working with the restaurant to ensure that all the food handlers are vaccinated. The restaurant is cooperating fully with the Health Department and will remain closed until enough employees are vaccinated to reopen safely, officials said.

"We are asking all restaurant patrons and employees to get this vaccination as soon as possible," Farley said. "If people experience symptoms, they should see a doctor immediately. This incident serves as an important reminder to always wash your hands thoroughly before handling food to prevent the spread of disease."

Hepatitis type A is a liver disease caused by a virus and is spread from person-to-person by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with traces of fecal matter from an infected person -- because someone did not wash their hands after going to the bathroom. There are no special medicines or antibiotics that can be used to treat a person once the symptoms appear, officials said.

Some people who have chronic liver disease or a weakened immune system could experience more severe illness and require hospitalization, but hepatitis A is rarely fatal, the Health Department said.

For the vaccine to be most effective in preventing disease, people should be vaccinated within 14 days of exposure.

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