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A hepatitis A outbreak that killed one person and is suspected in the death of another – after infecting more than a dozen people – has been linked to a popular Pennsylvania pizzeria with a history of health code violations.
Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in West Norriton, about 20 miles from Philadelphia, was shuttered Friday after it was identified by the Montgomery County Office of Public Health as the epicenter of the outbreak.
The recent cluster of the virus killed one person, infected nine more and may have killed another victim whose death is under investigation. Two additional potential infections are also under investigation, the department said.
The first exposure is believed to have occurred in late November.
Hepatitis A, a highly-transmissible infection of the liver, is generally spread from trace amounts of infected stool from food, drink or an object.
Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in West Norriton was identified by the Montgomery County Office of Public Health on Friday as the epicenter of the outbreak that killed one person, infected nine more and may have killed another victim whose death is under investigation
On January 5, the Pennsylvania Department of Health made an earlier announcement about the outbreak, but neglected to mention its suspected source
The restaurant at 2401 W. Main Street has been a part of the community in the north Philly suburb for more than 40 years, according to its website.
On January 5, the Pennsylvania Department of Health made an earlier announcement about the outbreak, but neglected to mention its suspected source.
Gino’s attorney said that reports of the virus were an ‘unfounded rumor’ and asked the restaurant’s ‘loyal customers’ to come forward with the names of people ‘spreading this malice’ about hepatitis A infections so the restaurant can ‘take appropriate legal action and stop this madness.’
‘The health departments of Montgomery County and Pennsylvania inspected our restaurant and found no evidence of any airborne or transmissible disease,’ the unnamed attorney told WPVI.
‘None of our employees have been sick We have followed all COVID protocols and none of our customers have contacted us about any food issues…We take great pride in our outstanding reputation for excellent Italian food and hope it won’t be affected by false rumors.’
‘We cannot and will not be held responsible for something we did not do.’
DailyMail.com could not reach Montgomery County’s Office of Public Health for comment regarding its statement.
But its past health inspections paint a different picture.
Pictured are antipasto spreads prepared in the restaurant’s kitchen
On Yelp, Gino’s has a solid four-star rating from 104 reviewers, with users praising its interior (pictured) and large portions, with one calling the spot a ‘neighborhood gem’
The restaurant was hit with 17 violations, including ‘mouse-like droppings’ found under the restaurant’s front counter under its soda dispensing boxes, that led the Health Department to give Gino’s an ‘Out of Compliance’ designation after an unannounced inspection on March 4 of 2020.
A few months later, on July 10, it was hit with 23 violations and was deemed out of compliance with Pennsylvania’s food safety regulations. Among the violations were ‘fly-like insects’ found throughout the facility and employees handling ready-to-eat food with their bare hands.
The Montgomery Department of Public Health recommended that anyone exposed to hepatitis A get vaccinated for the virus if they haven’t already done so.
Signs and symptoms of the disease can last up to two months and include fatigue, fever, nausea, stomach pain, joint pain, loss of appetite and jaundice.
Source: Daily Mail