A third death is being investigated in a hepatitis A outbreak traced to an Italian restaurant in West Norriton, PA.

Montgomery County public health officials say they have already confirmed two deaths in the outbreak traced to Gino’s Restaurant and Pizzeria. They have confirmed 10 people as infected with the liver disease and another three cases remain under investigation.

As of this week the restaurant remains closed. Public health officials ordered the closure on Jan. 7. At least seven of the infected people were admitted to hospitals.

County officials are working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health on the investigation. So far the investigation suggests the exposure occurred in late November and no longer presents a risk. 

It can take up to 50 days after exposure to the hepatitis A virus for symptoms to appear. After symptoms appear sick people must be tested and test results must be confirmed and reported to public health officials before the patient count can be updated.

About hepatitis A infections
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection. The virus is generally spread when people come into microscopic amounts of stool from an infected person through food, drink or an object. The disease can also be spread through close contact. It can be prevented by vaccination.

Typical symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. A person can transmit the virus to others up to two weeks before and one week after symptoms appear.

Hepatitis A is preventable through vaccination. Hepatitis A vaccine has been recommended for school children for many years, and one dose of the vaccine has been required for entry into kindergarten and first grade since 2014. Most adults are likely not vaccinated but may have been if they received vaccinations prior to traveling internationally.

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