Hepatitis alert for diners at Alta in Manhattan

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Health officials are recommending that customers who ate dessert recently at a popular West Village restaurant get hepatitis A vaccinations.

A food handler at Alta, a Mediterranean restaurant on West 10th Street, has contracted the contagious liver disease, prompting the warning. People who dined at the restaurant between March 23 and April 2 are most at risk, officials said.

The city health department is working with the restaurant to obtain as many names as possible of people who may have been exposed and will contact each of them directly.

Free hepatitis A vaccinations are available for Alta customers from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday at the Chelsea Health Center, 303 Ninth Ave., first floor, in Manhattan, officials said.

The restaurant estimates about 3,000 people visited Alta on the dates in question, with about 15 percent eating dessert. No additional cases of illness have been identified, the health department said.

"We are working closely with the health department to ensure the safety of our customers," owner Christopher Chesnutt said in a statement. "This is an isolated incident, and the infected employee is no longer on premises."

People who were exposed to the disease but have already received two doses of hepatitis A vaccine sometime in their life do not need another shot; all others should be vaccinated.

Symptoms include jaundice or a yellowing of eyes and skin, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea.

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