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3 deaths linked to hepatitis A outbreak at West Norriton restaurant

WEST NORRITON — Three people have died in connection with a hepatitis A outbreak stemming from a restaurant in West Norriton Township, according to a statement issued Thursday evening from the Montgomery County Office of Public Health.

The outbreak was first reported in a Pennsylvania Department of Health public advisory earlier this month.

Exposure originated in late November at Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in West Norriton Township, according to county health officials, who found 10 confirmed cases of hepatitis A, while “three remain suspect.” Seven people were hospitalized as a result of the outbreak, but they’ve since been discharged, a county spokesperson said.

Hepatitis A, or HAV is typically “found in the stool and blood of people who are infected,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s spread by way of “close personal contact with an infected person, or through eating contaminated food or drink.”

Symptoms include yellow skin or eyes, lack of appetite, upset stomach, vomiting, fever, stomach pain, diarrhea, and joint pain, according to a county spokesperson. While some who contract the virus may not experience symptoms, symptoms could surface between 15 and 50 days after exposure to infection.

The eatery was shuttered on Jan. 7, and was closed for several days while health department representatives continued an investigation. At that time, one death had been reported while a possible second death was “being investigated.”

As of Wednesday morning, two deaths were confirmed with a third “under investigation.” Thursday marked the third death associated with the outbreak.

Findings revealed Thursday that the restaurant “no longer presents a risk to the public.”

“After conducting a reopening inspection today, Montgomery County Office of Public Health’s Division of Environmental Field Services has lifted the closure of Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in West Norriton,” a county spokesperson said in a statement Thursday evening.

The county health department’s investigation combed through the restaurant in order to “ensure the facility was cleaned and sanitized as instructed includ(ing) the kitchen, dining room, wait stations and restrooms, all food and non-food contact surfaces.”

Any possible contaminated food items were also thrown out, according to reports from Gino’s owner. Further inspections observing “employee food handling procedures” are expected, according to a county spokesperson.

Workers who may have been exposed to hepatitis A were tested for the virus, according to health officials, who also presented an opportunity to get vaccinated.

County health officials stressed that anyone experiencing Hepatitis A symptoms should contact their doctor. Health officials also urged vaccinations for the virus.

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Source: Berkshire mont

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