April 5, 2013 – In response to a case of Hepatitis A in a food handler at Alta restaurant in the West Village, the Health Department today urges patrons who ate dessert at the restaurant between March 23rd and April 2nd to get Hepatitis A vaccination as a precautionary measure. Hepatitis A is spread by putting something in your mouth (even though it might look clean) that has been contaminated with traces of fecal matter from an infected person. Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin), fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea.
Any patron who ate dessert at Alta from March 23rd - April 2nd is considered at risk and is recommended to receive a preventive vaccine. The Health Department is working with the restaurant to obtain as many names as possible of people who may have been exposed and will contact each of them directly. Patrons can also call 311 for more information.
The restaurant owners, who are cooperating fully with the Health Department, estimate that about 3,000 people may have visited on these nights with about 15% having eaten dessert. No additional cases of illness have been identified.
People can visit their regular doctor to receive this shot. Pregnant women are urged to consult with their doctor to discuss whether to receive vaccine or a different preventive treatment. The Health Department will also offer free Hepatitis A vaccinations to patrons starting tomorrow at the Chelsea Health Center, 303 Ninth Avenue, 1st Floor in Manhattan at the following times:
Saturday, April 6: 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Sunday, April 7: 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Monday, April 8: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
People who were exposed but have already received two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine sometime in their life do not need another shot; all others should be vaccinated.
“We are asking these restaurant patrons to get this vaccination as a precautionary measure,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “If people experience symptoms, they should see a doctor immediately. This incident serves as an important reminder to always wash your hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of disease.”
“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.”
Hepatitis type A is a liver disease caused by a virus. It is spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth (even though it might look clean) that has been contaminated with traces of fecal matter from an infected person. There are no special medicines or antibiotics that can be used to treat a person once the symptoms appear. While some people who have chronic liver disease or a weakened immune system could experience more severe illness and require hospitalization, hepatitis A is rarely fatal (fewer than 1% of cases).
In order for the vaccine to be most effective, people who have been exposed to Hepatitis A should be vaccinated within 14 days. The earlier the vaccine is given, the more effective it is in preventing the disease.
About the Investigation
The Health Department investigates all cases of Hepatitis A in New York City. The Department was notified of this case on April 4, began the investigation, and inspected the restaurant yesterday. An average of 65 cases of Hepatitis A occur in New York City each year, with 1-2 occurring in food handlers.
For more information on Hepatitis A, please visit: