Friday, May 2, 2008

Hepatitis Gets Around

The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health has reported a 19th case of hepatitis A infection linked to the Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in La Mesa. The tally of victims is now 8 females and 11 males; the age range of infected individuals is 23 to 59 years. Investigators do not appear to be any closer to finding the source of the outbreak.

Chipotle management is denying responsibility for the San Diego outbreak. According to an item in "Nation's Restaurant News" on April 28th, the Company believes that – based on the La Mesa restaurant's "A" sanitation rating in recent inspections and in the absence of a hepatitis-positive employee – the source must lie elsewhere.

The article quoted a Chipotle spokesperson as saying, "There is no evidence the hepatitis A cases were caused by Chipotle’s food, either by the investigation conducted by health department or by our internal investigation."

Meanwhile, another national chain is also wrestling with hepatitis A. Two IHOP locations in the Albuquerque, NM area have been linked to a small outbreak of hepatitis. A food server at one of the locations became ill on March 24th, and is thought to have passed the infection to an employee who works at the second location. That person began to suffer from symptoms of hepatitis A infection on April 19th. Two additional cases have been linked to IHOP.

New Mexico health officials are urging anyone who ate at the either IHOP (8100 Wyoming Blvd. NE and 1400 Mercantile Ave. NE) and who is feeling ill to see a doctor. Doctors and the general public can telephone the Department of Health at (505) 827-0006 for more information.

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