Cook at Des­tiny’s may have ex­posed pa­trons to hep­ati­tis

The Buffalo News - - WEATHER - By San­dra Tan Leg­end: s-sunny, pc-partly cloudy, c-cloudy, sh-show­ers, r-rain, t-thun­der­storms, sf-snow flur­ries, sn-snow, i-ice

A cook at Des­tiny’s restau­rant may have ex­posed co­work­ers and hun­dreds of pa­trons to hep­ati­tis A while work­ing at the es­tab­lish­ment at 2383 Fill­more Ave. be­tween Feb. 9 and Mon­day.

Des­tiny’s serves roughly 100 pa­trons on week­days and twice as many on week­ends.

The Erie County Health Depart­ment will hold a free vac­ci­na­tion clin­ics Wednes­day and Thurs­day for those who might have been ex­posed. The clin­ics are for those who ate at Des­tiny’s be­tween Feb. 27 and Mon­day. Those who ate at the restau­rant be­fore Feb. 27 were ex­posed too long ago to ben­e­fit from the vac­cine, County Ex­ec­u­tive Mark Polon­carz said.

The clin­ics will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on both days at Elim Chris­tian Fel­low­ship, 70 Chalmers Ave., Buf­falo. A link on the county web­site al­lows peo­ple to pre­reg­is­ter for a rapid screen­ing and vac­ci­na­tion.

The county re­ceived word of the po­ten­tial hep­ati­tis A ex­po­sure on Mon­day and scram­bled to alert the pub­lic Tues­day, Polon­carz said.

The restau­rant work­ers are be­ing vac­ci­nated.

Hep­ati­tis A is a dis­ease marked by fa­tigue, poor ap­petite, ab­dom­i­nal pain, nau­sea, jaun­dice and dark urine, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. The dis­ease typ­i­cally runs its course within a few weeks to a cou­ple of months. Symp­toms of­ten oc­cur about four weeks af­ter ex­po­sure, ac­cord­ing to the CDC. Most chil­dren un­der the age of 6 are symp­tom-free.

An­ti­bod­ies pro­duced in re­sponse to the hep­ati­tis A in­fec­tion last for life.

Hep­ati­tis A is typ­i­cally trans­mit­ted when peo­ple eat or drink prod­ucts that have been con­tam­i­nated by small amounts of fe­ces from some­one al­ready in­fected with hep­ati­tis A, or in some cases, sex with some­one who is in­fected.

This dis­ease is more com­mon in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries with poor san­i­ta­tion and is not trans­mit­ted through ca­sual con­tact.

Chil­dren have been rou­tinely vac­ci­nated against hep­ati­tis A since 1994.

The lat­est hep­ati­tis scare is an ex­am­ple of a grow­ing num­ber of cases in Erie County since 2017. So far this year, six hep­ati­tis A cases have been con­firmed. There were 32 last year, said Health Com­mis­sioner Dr. Gale Burstein.

“We ac­tu­ally be­lieve this is the tip of the ice­berg,” she said.

For that rea­son, she said, she en­cour­aged all adults who have not yet been vac­ci­nated against the virus to be­come vac­ci­nated.

The in­fected restau­rant worker was di­ag­nosed with hep­ati­tis A on Mon­day morn­ing, Burstein said.

Health Depart­ment san­i­tar­i­ans who sub­se­quently in­spected Des­tiny’s restau­rant found 10 “non­crit­i­cal” vi­o­la­tions. Most were im­me­di­ately ad­dressed, Burstein said.

“The restau­rant has been ex­tremely co­op­er­a­tive,” she said. “They have been able to cor­rect most of the vi­o­la­tions on site.”

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