Illinois McDonalds Hepatitis A Infections Reported in 30 People
Health officials say at least 30 cases of hepatitis A are now linked to an infection outbreak caused by workers at a McDonald’s in northwestern Illinois, which has been blamed on a breakdown in communication among the restaurant, the employees and health safety workers.
The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Rock Island County Health Department reported the 30th confirmed case of hepatitis A infection among people who visited the McDonald’s, as the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department completed its investigation into how employees were allowed to work after testing positive for hepatitis A, a contagious liver infection.
Hepatitis A is a potentially serious virus that causes swelling of the liver, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. After exposure, it can take as long as 20 days before symptoms appear. Getting a vaccination between the exposure and the appearance of the symptoms can help avoid a full-blown infection.
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At least 26 McDonald’s hepatitis A infections were found among people in Illinois, and another four victims were identified who live out-of-state. All of the confirmed cases are people who ate at the McDonald’s in Milan, Ill. in early to mid-July, during the time period that one or more infected workers handled food there. The resulting outbreak led to county health officials inoculating more than 5,000 local residents against the disease in order to contain the outbreak.
The sheriff department’s investigation has concluded that the Trinity Regional Health System and the Metropolitan Medical Laboratory failed to report that they had a confirmed hepatitis A infection in a food handler within a timely manner as required by state health laws. When information about the infection was finally submitted, the health department employee whose job it was to act on the information was on vacation.
Trinity Regional Health System has already taken some responsibility in the case. In a press conference on July 24, Vice President of Hospital Operations Kathy Cunningham said the hospital knew of at least four cases of hepatitis A, but failed to timely notify the Rock Island County Health Department.
At least two McDonald’s hepatitis lawsuits have been filed as a result of the outbreak. One was filed by the parents of a teenage boy who contracted hepatitis A after eating at the McDonald’s. The other is a class action suit on behalf of all customers who ate at the McDonald’s and subsequently received preventative treatment. The complaints name McDonald’s Corporation and the owner of the franchise, Kevin Murphy, as defendants. Murphy has maintained that the restaurant did not knowingly employ any workers who were infected.
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