What to Know
- Officials are investigating a third possible death in relation to a recent Hepatitis A outbreak in Montgomery County.
- Since the Montgomery County Health Department announced the outbreak on January 5, there have been 10 confirmed cases and two deaths.
- Health officials closed down a West Norriton restaurant in relation to the outbreak though the business has denied any involvement.
Officials are investigating a third possible death in relation to a recent Hepatitis A outbreak in Montgomery County.
On January 5, the Montgomery County Health Department announced there was a Hepatitis A outbreak. So far they have confirmed 10 cases and two deaths.
Officials are now working to determine if the death of a person on Monday is also related to the outbreak. They have not released detailed information on the victim due to the continued investigation. A family member of the victim told NBC10 they were heartbroken over the loss.
Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV) which is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected, according to the CDC. It is also highly contagious.
“It is a fecal or oral route. And that means there’s a small amount of feces or poop on a substance that is ingested and that’s how you get Hepatitis A,” Dr. Darren Mareiniss of Einstein Health told NBC10.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A can last up to two months and include fatigue, nausea, stomach pain and jaundice though most people with the virus don’t have long-lasting illness, according to the CDC. Vaccination is the best way to prevent the virus.
“The majority of the Hep A patients don’t progress to fulminant disease,” Dr. Mareiniss said. “That means they don’t progress to liver failure. It’s less than one percent we believe. So a lot of people have milder symptoms and they’re self-limiting. It goes away.”
While 10 cases have been reported in Montgomery County, Dr. Mareiniss said there are likely many more.
“Since you have two deaths, if it were out of 10 people that’d be 20 percent mortality if those were the only people infected,” he said. “Clearly there are a lot more than those infected. That’s what I would take away from that.”
On January 7, the Montgomery County Health Department announced they were closing Gino's Ristorante & Pizzeria in West Norriton Township in relation to the outbreak. The restaurant has remained closed ever since though the business has denied involvement in the outbreak and claimed they were the victims of false rumors.
“We cannot and will not take responsibility for something we did not cause,” Francis Recchuiti, an attorney for the restaurant, wrote.
A source told NBC10 all of the workers at Gino’s have been tested and vaccinated against Hepatitis A and so far there have not been any positive tests among the employees. The source also said a family member of an employee is still scheduled for a test though they were previously vaccinated against the virus.
It’s unknown when or if the restaurant will reopen.