ALERT: WESTSIDE MARKET CUSTOMERS MAY HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO HEPATITIS A

The city Health Department is warning customers of Westside Market on Broadway between 97th and 98th streets that they may have been exposed to Hepatitis A. A food handler at the store has contracted the disease and anyone who ate cut fruit from there between August 9 and August 22 is being urged to get a Hepatitis A vaccination. The full release from the Health Department is below:

In response to a case of hepatitis A in a food handler at Westside Market located at 2589 Broadway between 97th and 98th street, on the Upper West Side, the Health Department is urging patrons who ate chopped, ready-to-eat fruit either in-store, through catering or delivery between August 9th and August 22nd to get hepatitis A vaccination as a precautionary measure. Fruits involved include those packaged in plastic containers and sold in the refrigerated case immediately to the left as you enter the store and includes watermelon cut into halves and quarters; peeled whole pineapples; and shelled and cut coconut. Hepatitis A is spread by eating food (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. People typically develop symptoms of hepatitis A infection about one month (range is 15 to 50 days) after they are exposed to the virus. However, if people are vaccinated within 14 days of exposure, it can prevent the disease from occurring.

Any person who ate chopped, ready-to-eat fruit from the Westside Market either in-store, through catering or delivery from August 9th to August 22nd is considered at risk and is recommended to receive a preventive vaccine. The Health Department has already worked with the store to ensure all of the remaining ready-to-eat fruit with expiration dates within the at-risk time period have been destroyed.

The Westside Market is cooperating fully with the Health Department, and estimates that it sells approximately 100 ready-to-eat fruit containers per day.

People can visit their regular doctor to receive this shot. The Health Department will offer free hepatitis A vaccinations starting tomorrow (Friday) at MS 258: Community Action School located at 154 West 93rd Street New York, NY 10025 at the following times:

Friday, August 23: 2pm – 8pm
Saturday, August 24:  10am – 2pm
Sunday, August 25:  2pm – 6pm
Monday, August 26:  2pm – 8pm
*(Those with insurance, please bring your insurance card with you)

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. Pregnant women are urged to consult with their doctor to discuss whether to receive vaccine or a different preventive treatment.

“We are asking these store 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.”

About Hepatitis

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 August 21, began the investigation, and inspected today.  An average of 65 cases of hepatitis A occur in New York City each year, with 1-2 occurring in food handlers.

If you would like vaccination location and hours or incident updates sent directly to your phone, you may text HEPA to 877877.

For more information on Hepatitis A, please visit:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/living/cd-hepatitisabc.shtml

To learn more check out these Frequently Asked Questions.

NEWS | 10 comments | permalink
    1. Pasta P says:

      eewwwww. that’s almost as bad as eating at a “C” rated sushi shop

    2. Erica says:

      Just the one uptown not on 77th?

    3. NikFromNYC says:

      The kids who arrange the fruit inside the 110th store after midnight are continuously readjusting their jeans to properly expose their Calvins and Hilfigers.

    4. HG says:

      Shouldn’t the store be telling people?? I was there last night, not a sign anywhere – then see it on the news this morning. ewwww

      • Beth says:

        Agreed. I was there this morning, and saw people being interviewed by a news crew outside. Now, I know why. I bought a container of cantaloupe, which I have since discarded. Westside Market should have removed all cut fruit from the front refridgerators and taken the loss on the merchandise in order to re-establish confidence in its products with customers.

    5. Regina says:

      Ewwwww
      How can only that one be affected? Don’t all the westside markets have the same distributor?!!! The 110 and broadway is just 3 blocks away!

    6. Bridget says:

      In addition to the shots, shouldn’t they offer free blood tests as well? Is there a way you can do a follow up?

    7. reader says:

      Just got my shot. It was overall organized and efficient and most people were polite and friendly. I arrived a little before 2 (when it opened) and the whole thing took about an hour. The line was half-way down the block when I left. Lots of murmurs of outrage and hysterics.