Hepatitis A case found at Casa-di-Pizza

Pat Koster, Associate News Editor

Earlier last week, SUNY Buffalo State students received an email alert regarding a confirmed case of hepatitis A at a local restaurant, Casa-di-Pizza.

The email said that Casa-di-Pizza, 477 Elmwood Ave., had a confirmed case of hepatitis A from a food server. Erie County health officials said customers who ate at the restaurant from March 1 to March 19 may have been at risk, although takeout and bar customers were not affected.

The e-mail continued:

“Dr. Gale R. Burstein, county health commissioner, said that between 1,500 and 2,000 people may be at risk but emphasized that the risk of transmission is very low. Anyone who has had a vaccination for hepatitis A or has previously been infected is not at risk, she said.”

Hepatitis A is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. The virus is commonly spread by ingesting something that has been contaminated by an infected person’s stool.

Webmd.com states on its website the virus causes a short-lived infection, stating that the liver heals itself over a few weeks to months.

“Usually the virus doesn’t cause any long-term problems or complications. However, according to the CDC, 10% to 15% of people with hepatitis A will have prolonged or relapsing symptoms over a six- to-nine-month period. Rarely, patients will develop acute liver failure, which can be fatal, or require a liver transplant.”

The Erie County Department of Health offered a precautionary vaccine during a clinic at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center on March 23 and 24 for those who may have been exposed from March 9 to March 19.

The email stated that Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said customers who ate at Casa-di-Pizza between March 1 and 8 should watch for symptoms. Those customers were not eligible for the vaccine because it was only effective within two weeks of exposure to the virus.

Symptoms listed on webmd.com include:

  • Jaundice (condition causing yellow eyes and skin, dark urine)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

Joseph J. Jacobbi Jr., owner of Casa-di-Pizza, told The Buffalo News that the issue was a worker, not the food.

“The food was not the issue. This has been the biggest misconception regarding the problem,” Jacobbi told The Buffalo News.

“The restaurant food was never in question. It was strictly the person and not the food.”

The Buffalo News stated in an article that public health officials said that the restaurant cooperated with the investigation of the case and showed that its employees are aware of proper hand-washing and food-handling procedures.

The end of the email sent to students said:

“Individuals with questions or concerns can also call (716) 858-2929. Individuals that may have eaten at the restaurant and are currently not located in Erie County may contact their local or state health department for advisement. You may also contact the Weigel Health Center at 716-878-6711.”

There is a 25 percent discount at Casa-di-Pizza available for dine-in customers who were inconvenienced by having to get vaccinated, if they present their paperwork from the Health Department.

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