McDonald's operator faces class action

by Erica Shaffer
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WATERLOO, NY – A customer who ate at a McDonald’s restaurant in Waterloo, NY, is suing the restaurant operator, Jascor Inc. The plaintiff, Christopher Welch, said he ate food from the restaurant on at least one day when an employee infected with hepatitis A was working, according to court documents. Welch filed the lawsuit for himself and on behalf of other individuals who were exposed to the virus.

The Seneca County Health Department confirmed the case on Nov. 13. The agency stressed there is a low risk of contracting the disease which can cause contagious liver infections. However, the department urged individuals who were not previously vaccinated for hepatitis A and who consumed food or drink from the Waterloo McDonald’s location to seek treatment. The department advised treatment for customers who ate at the McDonald’s in Waterloo on several dates between Oct. 31 and Nov. 8.

On Nov. 14-15, the health department held screening clinics and provided free vaccines for affected individuals, and at least 1,000 people sought treatment.

Hepatitis A can spread through food or water contaminated with even microscopic amounts of fecal matter, according the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus attacks the liver and can result in symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite, vomiting and abdominal pain. The most severe infections can cause liver failure and death. Symptoms can range from mild illness lasting a few weeks to more severe symptoms lasting several months. A vaccine of immune globulin prophylaxis is the best way to prevent contracting hepatitis A, according to the CDC.
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