More restaurant patrons exposed to hepatitis A in Detroit

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Detroit public health officials posted back to back notices Wednesday and Thursday urging patrons of two restaurants to seek medical attention because they may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.

Customers of a McDonald’s restaurant and the Greektown Casino are at risk, according to notices posted this week by the Detroit Health Department. Michigan is one of several states involved in a hepatitis A outbreak that has sickened more than 1,300 people, killing 41.

As of Wednesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services was reporting  555 confirmed cases of hepatitis A, with 457 hospitalizations and 20 deaths.

There is still time for some people who consumed food or beverages at the two locations to receive post-exposure treatment to prevent infection. For some customers, the two-week window of opportunity the receive the post-exposure injections has already closed. But for others, there are a few days left.

The city health department reported the restaurants, dates of potential exposure, and deadlines for post-exposure treatment as:

  • McDonald’s at 2889 West Grand Blvd., exposure period from Nov. 8 through Nov. 22, post-exposure treatment must be taken before Dec. 6; and
  • Greektown Casino at at 555 East Lafayette, exposure period from Nov. 11 through Nov. 22, post-exposure treatment must be taken before Dec. 6.

City health officials report that operators of both restaurants have cooperated with the health department investigation and have taken necessary steps to clean and sanitize their facilities.

Neither location poses an ongoing threat of hepatitis A exposure at either the McDonald’s location or the Greektown Casino.

“Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease,” according to the public warnings posted by the Detroit health department this week. “It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.”

It usually takes two to seven weeks for symptoms to develop after exposure to the virus. So people who were potentially exposed at the McDonald’s location or the Greektown Casino should monitor themselves in the coming weeks. If they develop symptoms, public health officials say they should immediately seek medical attention.

Symptoms can include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal, and sometimes yellow eyes or skin and dark urine. A person can get Hepatitis A when they eat, drink, or touch their mouth with food, liquid or objects —  including their hands — that have come into contact feces from an infected person. Microscopic amounts of feces that are undetectable by the human eye carry enough of the virus to infect people.

In October, infected employees at two other Detroit restaurants, Firewater Bar and Grill and a Little Caesars Pizza location, spurred public health officials to issue similar public alerts.

Many of the hepatitis A victims in the ongoing multi-state outbreak have been homeless people or substance abusers. But at least one in four of the confirmed cases in Michigan have been neither homeless nor substance abusers.

Free vaccinations available
The Detroit Health Department offers free hepatitis A vaccinations at both of its Immunization Clinics on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 6.p.m. The clinics are at:

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