Suffolk health probes hepatitis A case at Hamptons restaurant

Driver's Seat, a restaurant on Job's Lane in Driver's Seat, a restaurant on Job's Lane in Southampton offers outdoor seating on a small terrace and in a courtyard. (June 22, 2010) Photo Credit: Doug Young

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Following a report of a worker with hepatitis A at a Southampton restaurant, the Suffolk County health department is offering free preventive treatment to anyone who dined there between Aug. 16 and Aug. 20.

The Department of Health Services confirmed Thursday that it's investigating a case of hepatitis A, an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, at The Driver's Seat restaurant, 62 Jobs Lane.

Preventive treatment with a vaccination or immune globulin within two weeks of exposure can help to prevent or lessen the severity of the illness, officials said.

That treatment is not recommended for those potentially exposed before Aug. 16. Those people "should be aware of the signs and symptoms of hepatitis A and contact their health care provider if they become ill," the department said in a statement.

Hepatitis A symptoms include fever, fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice -- a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Most people recover in a few weeks without any complications.

The symptoms usually appear within 28 days of exposure, with a range of 15 to 50 days. There is no specific treatment other than supportive care for someone with the illness, the department said.

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The virus can be spread by consuming food or drink handled by an infected person. It can also be spread from person to person through fecal matter.

Those who have already been vaccinated for hepatitis A or who have had the illness in the past are protected and do not need preventive treatment. Pregnant women are urged to consult their doctor.

Potentially exposed individuals may also receive preventive treatment from their doctor.

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For more information, call the health department hotline at 631-787-2200 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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