Possible hepatitis exposure in Peekskill, officials say

April 16, 2010 2:50:45 PM PDT
Health officials in Westchester County are warning patrons of a Dunkin Donuts of possible Hepatitis A exposure. Customers of the Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins, located at 422 Washington Street in Peekskill may have been exposed to hepatitis A by an infected employee.

Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Archbald said that free post-exposure treatment for hepatitis A will be provided by the Westchester County Health Department starting today(Friday) to customers who consumed drinks containing ice between April 1 and April 6.

The Health Department already began providing treatment to household contacts and coworkers. The employee is recovering and is not considered infectious after April 6.

Preventive treatment is only effective if given within two weeks of potential exposure.

"Most cases of hepatitis A are mild and resolve without any treatment," Dr. Archbald said. "Post-exposure treatment helps avoid illness or lessen the symptoms."

Hepatitis A virus is generally a mild illness that affects the liver. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, poor appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine and yellowing of the skin and eyes, and can develop from two weeks to two months after exposure.

Anyone who drank beverages with ice between March 28 and March 31 may have also been exposed, but would not benefit from post-exposure treatment.

For those who may have been exposed but are unable to receive preventive treatment from their health care provider, Westchester County Department of Health will provide this free treatment and education in partnership with Hudson River HealthCare, at 1037 Main St., today, from 3 p.m. to 5pm; Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Monday and Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Anyone age 18 or younger must bring a parent along to provide consent. No appointments are needed. Dr. Archbald will be at Hudson River HealthCare and available to speak with reporters today at 3 p.m.

Anyone who has had hepatitis A illness or hepatitis A vaccine is protected from infection. Those who may have been exposed and have never had hepatitis A illness or vaccine should obtain preventive treatment by Tuesday, April 20 and should have a second dose of vaccine in October, officials said. Pregnant women who may have been exposed should contact their prenatal care provider about treatment.

For more information about hepatitis A and other health topics, contact the Westchester County Department of Health at 914-813-5000 or visit the website at www.westchestergov.com/health.