SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- For the first time, we are learning about a Hepatitis A case in a restaurant worker in Sarasota County.
The Element PB&T Restaurant at 1413 Main Street in Sarasota had a worker who tested positive for Hepatitis A, according to state records.
Our ABC Action News I-Team obtained new state documents that state the employee began exhibiting symptoms on January 2 and January 3 was the last day worked.
But according to a statement released by JC Shurts, the restaurant's general manager, the employee did not return to work after he was reported as having Hepatitis A on January 2.
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The employee no longer works with Element PB&T, according to the statement released by the restaurant. Element PB&T said in the statement that all employees were notified and were offered free vaccinations.
"We are confident our restaurant poses no risk to patrons or employees and go to great length to assure this to be continually true. Owners, managers, employees and their families eat in this restaurant every day," Shurts said in a statement.
The Element PB & T Restaurant released the following statement:
A former employee was reported with Hepatitis A on January 2, 2019. He did not return to work and his was the only such circumstance. The department of health responded with a thorough inspection and found NO contamination within the restaurant and NO further contamination from any employee.
ALL employees were notified and offered to have a free vaccination provided to them, some are former military and had already been vaccinated, others immediately did so and others followed up within days. We were told it is a violation of HIPPA to ask if they had it done at a later date and we could not make it mandatory for all to do. Within these constraints, we believe most, if not all are vaccinated.
We are confident our restaurant poses no risk to patrons or employees and go to great length to assure this to be continually true. Owners, managers, employees and their families eat in this restaurant every day. We hope whatever report you make, you consider the lives and welfare of our employees who take great pride in our services to the community and the efforts we take to protect our customers and employee’s health.
Hepatitis A has become an epidemic in the bay area and the state with more than 1,500 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.
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