Hepatitis A case traced to Mercer County restaurant worker; School located next door

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014
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HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Health officials have issued a warning after a worker at a New Jersey restaurant was confirmed to have hepatitis A, and parents of a school located next to the business have been notified that their children may be at risk.

Customers who ate food from Rosa's Restaurant and Catering in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, between Nov. 10 and Monday are at risk if they have not been vaccinated, according to officials.

The restaurant posted the following message on Facebook Monday.

"THIS AFTERNOON, we learned that a provisional employee (someone who was being reviewed for possible employment) was found to have Hepatitis A. AS A RESULT OF THIS, we immediately stopped operations at our restaurant so that all open foods could be discarded, food areas sanitized and a new staff brought in (outside staff that had not had any contact with the provisional employee). This evening, seven of our employees received precautionary vaccines and all of employees will do so as well before returning to work. Thank you."

The employee, who works in food preparation, has reportedly been hospitalized for a week.

Health officials advise non-vaccinated individuals to receive an injection of immune globulin or hepatitis A vaccine.

Hepatitis A symptoms include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and dark urine and jaundice.

There are additional concerns for students at neighboring St. Raphael's School, which has its lunches provided by the restaurant.

The mayor sent a letter home to parents warning of the possible exposure.

"The Hamilton Township Department of Health has been notified that your child may have been exposed to Hepatitis A infection through food consumption from your school lunch program. More than likely your child has already been vaccinated for Hepatitis A by their pediatrician/healhtcare provider and therefore have no risk of contracting Hepatitis A. Please contact your pediatrician/healthcare provider to determine if you child has received the vaccination for Hepatitis A."

Additionally, a registered public health nurse will be at the school at the beginning of the school day and at the end of the school day to answer questions. Parents can also contact the Hamilton Township Division of Health at 609-890-3884.

Officials assure parents that steps have been taken by the Hamilton Township Division of Health to ensure that the lunch provided children on Tuesday is safe. The restaurant brought in new staff who were not exposed to the infected worker, and they discarded all the food and brought in new products.

Health officials urge that if your child has not received the Hepatitis A vaccine, please make an appointment as soon as possible to receive one with your pediatrician/healthcare provider.