ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- If you're a Pizza Hut fan, you will need to hear this warning.
The Pizza Hut at 2421 4th Street North in St Petersburg is the latest restaurant to have a confirmed case of Hepatitis A.
A joint inspection was conducted on June 11 by the state and the Pinellas County Health Department after a pizza maker tested positive for the contagious disease on June 3.
During that food safety inspection, the state found employees not properly washing their hands after handling dirty dishes in the dish area and then unloading clean dishes from the dishwasher.
They also discovered mold on the pizza make cooler, an objectionable odor of sewage in the kitchen near the pizza oven and black mold on the walls.
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Pizza Hut Statement:
Food safety and the wellbeing of our customers and employees is our highest priority and a responsibility we don’t take lightly. Upon being notified of a team member’s diagnosis, we took immediate action and have cooperated with local health authorities. We made the decision to temporarily close the restaurant to ensure that all surfaces were cleaned and sanitized and to allow our team members the opportunity to follow the local health department’s instructions regarding vaccination. The Florida Department of Health has thoroughly reviewed the restaurant and confirmed that it has passed inspection and is approved to be open.
Hepatitis A has become an epidemic in the Tampa Bay area and the state with more than 1,700 confirmed cases in Florida since January 2018.
The Hepatitis A virus is spread when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks that have been contaminated with small undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.
Pinellas County Health Department is offering Hepatitis A vaccines to the public at no cost at several vaccine centers. For more information on where you can get these free vaccines in Pinellas County, you can click here . Other Florida counties, including Hillsborough, also provide free or discounted Hepatitis A vaccines. You can click here for more information .
For more information on Hepatitis A and guidelines from the federal government, visit: www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/index.htm.