CORTLANDT MANOR, New York - If you've dined at the Monteverde at Oldstone restaurant in Westchester County over the last few weeks, you'll want to pay close attention to a new health warning.
Officials with the Westchester County Department of Health say that a female employee with Hepatitis A recently worked at the Cortlandt Manor restaurant while she was infectious.
Anyone who consumed a beverage at the restaurant between May 31 and June 10 is now urged to get screened and treated for the viral liver disease.
What is Hepatitis A?
"I just got a phone call yesterday, so we're here to find out what's going on," restaurant patron Lou Netter said at Thursday's clinic.
The health department is offering these services free of charge, with the first session held Thursday. The second is scheduled for Friday, June 16, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Westchester County Health Department clinic located at 134 Court Street in White Plains.
"The key to prevention is a quick response," Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino said.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, poor appetite, diarrhea, dark urine and yellowing of the skin and eyes. Any potential symptoms can also develop anywhere from two weeks to two months after exposure. It is transmitted through contaminated food and water, but it can be effectively treated with a vaccine.
"It is a concern, because my wife can't get the shot because she's on steroids," patron Rich Kilmer said. "And she's due to go into the hospital tomorrow."
Many who got their shots didn't blame the restaurant and felt the owners did all they could to help.
"They were amazing," patron Millie Solomon said. "They tracked down a whole slew of people, and they've set up a free clinic, and they're giving us free medication. So they're preventing a public health outbreak."
But not everyone felt as upbeat.
"To get a call from the health department that you may have been exposed to hepatitis A, it's pretty ridiculous," patron John Federspeil said. "It's pretty ridiculous."
Monteverde, which overlooks the Hudson River, is a popular venue for weddings and corporate events.
The owners of the restaurant issued the following statement:
"In conjunction with the New York State and Westchester County Departments of Health, Monteverde is taking all steps necessary to notify the public at large of this health advisory. Monteverde would like the public to know that immediately upon being advised that an employee had been infected elsewhere with Hepatitis A, we have worked tirelessly to notify all those who had any contact with the person in question and will be cooperating with the Department of Health in all respects including an upcoming clinic. Preliminary investigations have indicated that the infection did not originate at Monteverde, but Monteverde will be involved with all actions necessary to conclude this health concern."
Still, many patrons were angry over the situation and accommodations.
"It was very inconvenient," patron Judy McQuade said. "They had us waiting under a tent in the parking lot, and then they brought us into a room that was overcrowded and then into another room for our shots."
Anyone interested in attending either of the clinics is encouraged to pre-register at Health.NY.Gov/Go2Clinic/50 or by calling the Health Department at (914) 995-7499.