A server at the Driver's Seat in Southampton was recently diagnosed with Hepatitis A, possibly exposing patrons to the virus and prompting a health department investigation, the county said on Thursday afternoon.
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services said preventive treatment — a free Hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin — for the virus is available, for free, to anyone who dined at the Jobs Lane restaurant between Aug. 16 and 20.
The treatment can help to prevent or lessen the severity of the illness if it is given within two weeks of exposure. The virus may be spread by consuming food or drink that has been handled by an infected person, the health department said.
Treatment, which is recommended within two weeks of exposure, is being offered on the third floor Teaching Center at Southampton Hospital at the following times:
- Friday, Aug. 30, 3 – 6 p.m.
- Saturday, Aug. 31, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Monday, Sept. 2, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Tuesday, Sept. 3, 3 - 6 p.m.
Treatment is also available at the SCDHS offices, located at 3500 Sunrise Hwy, Suite 124, Great River on:
- Friday, Aug. 30, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Tuesday, Sept. 3, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
"Preventive treatment is not recommended for individuals potentially exposed before Aug. 16, 2013," the health department said in a statement.
Corinne Rueb, the manager at the Driver's Seat, said the server has not been at work since Aug. 19, when he was sent home because he wasn't feeling well. He reached out for medical care, and received the diagnosis. He has since been treated, and is doing well, she said.
Rueb said the server spent the month of July traveling abroad.
"We all feel bad," Rueb said, adding that they are doing everything they can in response. No one else has been sick, she said.
"Every single employee that works at the Driver's Seat will be getting a shot between tonight and tomorrow," she said on Thursday. "We are doing everything the board of health has told us to do."
Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A, an inflammation of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus, range from mild to severe and include fever, fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Symptoms appear within 28 days of exposure, or a range of 15 to 50 days.
Most patients recover within a few weeks without complications, the health department explained.
Preventative measures include washing your hands before and after using the bathroom, during or after food preparation.
For additional information or questions about possible exposure, you may call the Suffolk County Department of Health Services hotline at 631-787-2200 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.