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January 06, 2022

One death from hepatitis A linked to Montgomery County restaurant, state health department says

Anyone unvaccinated for the virus, who may have been exposed, should get a shot within two weeks

Illness Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A Outbreak Willfred Wende/Pixabay

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is investigating a hepatitis A outbreak in Montgomery County stemming from an unnamed Italian restaurant. At least eight people may have been infected and one death may be linked to the outbreak.

A fatal case of hepatitis A is among eight infections that have been linked to a Montgomery County restaurant, Pennsylvania Department of Health said Wednesday.

LATEST: West Norriton restaurant linked to fatal hepatitis A case gets shut down, Montgomery County officials say

Officials did not name the restaurant, except to say it is an Italian restaurant, according to information released by the health department on Wednesday by the health department. One person has died from the disease and seven others have tested positive. Of those seven, six are hospitalized, health officials said.

"The Montgomery County Office of Public Health is not naming the restaurant because they are confident there is minimal risk of ongoing spread or transmission from that location," a county official told 6ABC.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by a highly transmissible virus. The severity of the infection can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious disease lasting several months. Most people who contract the virus do not get seriously ill.

The virus is generally spread when people come into trace amounts of stool from an infected person through food, drink or an object. The disease can also be spread through close contact, like caring for or having sex with with an infected person.

Certain populations are particularly at risk of contracting the disease, including the homeless, drug users and men who have sex with men.

Signs and symptoms of the disease can last up to two months and include fatigue, nausea, stomach pain and jaundice.

Hepatitis A is preventable via a vaccine. The Pennsylvania Department of Heath recommends that anyone who may have come in contact with the virus and hasn't been vaccinated get a dose within two weeks of exposure.

Hepatitis A outbreaks aren't uncommon. Since 2017, Pennsylvania and the nation have experienced several large-scale outbreaks, according to information from the health department. In October, the Keystone State was one of 24 with an ongoing outbreak and officials were tracking an increased number of outbreaks in Philadelphia over the course of 2021.

To report suspected clusters of hepatitis A, Pennsylvania residents can call (877) PA-HEALTH or their local health department.

Portions of this story were updated on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, after it was originally published.

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