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NYC restaurant patrons may have been exposed to hepatitis A, officials say

The New York City Health Department is urging patrons of a West Village restaurant to receive a vaccination after learning of a food handler there diagnosed with hepatitis A.

Any patron who had dessert at Alta restaurant between March 23 and April 2 is considered at risk, the Health Department said. It's recommended they get a hepatitis A vaccination as a precautionary measure. 

NBCNewYork: NYC restaurant patrons possibly exposed to hepatitis-A: officials

As many as 3,000 people may have visited the restaurant during the week in late March, and about 15 percent are estimated to have eaten dessert, the Health Department said. 

Hepatitis A is a liver disease spread by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with traces of fecal matter from an infected person. Symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea.

"We are working closely with the Health Department to ensure the safety of our customers," said Christopher Chesnutt, owner of Alta restaurant. "This is an isolated incident and the infected employee is no longer on premises." 

The Health Department said it is working with the restaurant to obtain as many names as possible of people who may have been exposed and to contact each of them. Patrons can also call 311 for more information. 

People who have been exposed should be vaccinated within 14 days for the shot to be most effective. Those who were exposed but have already received two doses of hepatitis A vaccine sometime in their lives do not need another shot; all others should be vaccinated. 

Once its symptoms appear, hepatitis A cannot be treated with special medicines or antibiotics. 

Alta, a Spanish and Mediterranean tapas bar located at 64 W. 10th St., is generally reviewed well by critics and customers.

The Health Department said it was notified of the case on April 4, began the investigation, and inspected the restaurant Thursday. An average of 65 cases of hepatitis A occur in New York City each year, with one to two cases occurring in food handlers.

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