NewsPinellas County


Worker at popular John's Pass restaurant tests positive for hepatitis A

Customers between May 7-20 urged to get vaccine
Posted at 9:34 AM, May 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-24 18:08:24-04

MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. — A worker at Friendly Fisherman in Madeira Beach, a popular restaurant at John's Pass Boardwalk Place, has tested positive for hepatitis A, according to the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County.

DOH-Pinellas said lab results confirmed the worker tested positive on May 22.

"On May 21,2019 a non food handling employee called his manager and complained of sickness. He was told not to come to work and seek medical attention.

That evening a relative of the employee called and spoke with our Store Manager and said that the employee had tested positive for hepatitis A and was getting additional testing done.

In the morning of May 22, 2019 as a precautionary measure our Senior Management decided to take action and ask all employees get the vaccine shot. We have set up a chart of employees and are driving them when needed to local pharmacies for their vaccination.

We have also arranged to have the health dept. come to our facility and vaccinate any employees that have not yet received it.

We have provided the Health Dept. with requested employee information and are working diligently to assure our staff and the public that we have safe health standards at our operation. The health dept. has been interviewing employees to see if they have any signs of hepatitis A.

We have taken corrective action on any violations with our health inspection and are retraining employees in areas of concern.

The Friendly Fisherman Restaurant has been serving top quality seafood to locals and tourists on the John's Pass Boardwalk for the past 40 years.

— The Friendly Fisherman Restaurant


The department recommends anyone who ate or drank at the restaurant between May 7 and May 20 to get a hepatitis A vaccination. Those who have previously received the hepatitis A vaccine do not need to take additional action.

DOH-Pinellas is offering the vaccine at the following locations Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.:

  • St. Petersburg: 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.
  • N Pinellas Park: 6350 76th Ave. N
  • Mid-County (Largo): 8751 Ulmerton Rd
  • Clearwater: 310 N. Myrtle Ave
  • Tarpon Springs: 301 S. Disston Ave

Please note that DOH-Pinellas will be closed in observance of Memorial Day on Monday, May 27.

A hotline has been set up for people who may have questions. The number to call is 727-824-6932.

According to the Pinellas County Health Department, the infected worker was at the restaurant on Monday. The notice to the public went out on Friday.

Johns Hopkins Infectious Disease Doctor Juan Dumois says that quick notification is key. You have exactly two weeks from visiting an impacted restaurant, according to Dumois, to get a vaccine and have it be effective before you get sick.

“It’s vital that these notifications go out quickly," Dumois explained. "That way people who might have been exposed can pursue getting the vaccine.”

Dumois says it can take weeks for symptoms to show up, but once they do, “You can feel miserable for a couple of weeks with nausea and vomiting and loss of appetite and your skin can turn yellow," he added.

Dumois is applauding the restaurant for taking action to get their employees vaccinated after learning about the Hep A case. "That can help tremendously to keep these cases from spreading," he explained.

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a a highly contagious disease that attacks the liver. It can be spread when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.

People infected with hepatitis A are most contagious from two weeks before the onset of symptoms to one week afterwards. Not everyone who is infected will have all the symptoms. Symptoms usually start within 28 days of exposure to the virus with a range of 15 to 50 days.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue/tired
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Pale or clay colored stool