ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Those who ate at Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill in downtown St. Petersburg earlier this month may have been exposed to Hepatitis A, a Dirty Dining I-Team investigation found.
The Pinellas County Health Department reported a dishwasher at the restaurant was “identified as case of hepatitis A,” according to an email obtained by the I-Team.
In the April 18 email, Pinellas County requests state health officials provide a “joint assessment” of the restaurant.
Medical experts recommend those who may have come in contact with Hepatitis A to be vaccinated against the virus as soon as possible. But The Pinellas County Health Department, which currently provides free vaccines to anyone who wants it, never told the public about the infected worker at Ferg’s.
The infected worker’s “last date of reported work was April 13 and (the employee) worked multiple days while infectious,” according to the email.
According to the email, the employee was reported to have jaundice, a common symptom of Hepatitis A, on April 15.
The Division of Hotels and Restaurants inspected the sports bar earlier in the month and documented 34 violations total including 10 "high priority violations."
Those included an employee failing to wash their hands before putting on gloves to work with food. Temperature violations with cold food held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit, including Kraut at 55 degrees, cut ham at 45 degrees, cheese at 50 degrees, leafy greens at 45 degrees, eggs at 51 degrees and a Cuban at 45 degrees.
Hot food was also not held 135 degrees or above after inspectors found chicken at 124 degrees and 104 degrees.
An administrative complaint by the division was filed after these most recent violations.
Back in October 2018, the sports bar was cited for two separate complaints for foodborne illness. The first complaint said two customers became ill after eating from the sports bar's salad on October 20. Another complaint said two additional customers became ill after eating from the sports bar's salad on the same day, according to emails obtained by the I-Team.
This isn't the first time the popular St. Petersburg sports bar has made headlines. Inspectors forced Ferg’s to close back in 2016 after finding evidence of rodents, roaches, ants, flies and maggots.
The news comes as ABC Action News' I-Team found the Hepatitis A crisis has hit Pinellas County hard. As of Monday night, Pinellas County reported 206 confirmed cases of Hepatits A.
- Dirty Dining: Ferg's Sports Bar temporarily closes for evidence of rodents, roaches, ants & maggots
- I-Team: Pinellas County kept secret Hepatitis A case at Tarpon Springs restaurant from the public
ABC Action News reached out to Ferg's and the restaurant owners plans to make a comment later Tuesday night. For more information on Hepatitis A and guidelines from the federal government, visit: www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/index.htm.