Some patrons of a Westchester doughnut shop may have been exposed to hepatitis A by an infected employee, the county health department said Friday.
The employee may have reached into the ice machine with bare hands while he was infected, health department spokeswoman Caren Halbfinger said.
Customers may have been exposed if they had any iced drinks between March 28 and April 6 at the combined Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin Robbins shop on Washington Street in Peekskill, says Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Archbald.
Hepatitis A, a liver infection, is rarely serious. But the county is offering free post-exposure treatment, which the employee's household contacts and co-workers have already begun.
Preventive treatment is only effective if given within two weeks of potential exposure, however. Store patrons who drank iced beverages between March 21 and March 28 may also have been exposed, but would not benefit from the post-exposure treatment, health officials said.
"Most cases of hepatitis A are mild and resolve without any treatment," Archbald said in a statement. "Post-exposure treatment helps avoid illness or lessen the symptoms."
Symptoms of hepatitis A can include fatigue, fever, poor appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine and yellowing of the skin and eyes.
The worker is recovering, and is no longer considered infectious.
As soon as health department staff learned where the employee worked, infectious disease and environmental health staff began a comprehensive investigation, with the full cooperation of the store manager and in consultation with the New York State Department of Health.
For those who may have been exposed but are unable to receive preventive treatment from their health care provider, the county will provide the free treatment in partnership with Hudson River HealthCare, at 1037 Main St., today, from 3 p.m. to 5pm; Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Monday and Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Anyone age 18 or younger must bring a parent along to provide consent. No appointments are needed. Individuals who have either had the illness or received a hepatitis A vaccine is protected from infection, but the health department cautioned that anyone who thinks they have been exposed should see their regular physician.
Pregnant women should contact their prenatal care provider about treatment.