Hepatitis A Alert

For Immediate Release

Date: August 20, 2004

Contact: Cort Lohff, State Epidemiologist
State Toxicologist
Vermont Department of Health

BURLINGTON - Vermont health officials are joining New York health officials in alerting people who ate dinner at The Ripe Tomato restaurant in Malta, New York on August 9 and 10 that they may have been exposed to hepatitis A.

The Ripe Tomato is a restaurant located where Route 9 intersects with 9P in Malta, N.Y., south of Saratoga.

A food worker at the restaurant has been diagnosed with the hepatitis A virus.

Hepatitis A is transmitted by person-to-person contact and by consuming food handled by an infected individual.

“If you ate at the Ripe Tomato on August 9 or 10 and consumed any garnish, it is very important that you contact the Vermont Department of Health,” said State Epidemiologist Cort Lohff, MD. “We can provide preventive treatment.”

Customers who ate garnishes (such as lemon slices, parsley, chives and orange slices) at the restaurant between July 30 and August 4 or on August 7 could also have been exposed. These people are past the 14-day period where the preventive treatment can be effective. However, these people should still be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease. If present, they should contact their health care provider.

Hepatitis A is a contagious viral illness that affects the liver. Symptoms include fatigue, poor appetite, fever and vomiting. As the disease progresses, dark urine, pale stools and jaundice – a temporary yellowing of the skin and eyes – may occur. Symptoms generally appear three to four weeks after exposure. The disease is rarely fatal and most people recover in a few weeks without complications. However, prompt preventive treatment can minimize the chances of becoming ill.

The Vermont Department of Health can be reached by calling 1-800-640-4374. Someone will be available over the weekend to respond to the calls.

More information about hepatitis A from the CDC can be found at the top of this page.