San Diego

Restaurants Concerned Over Hepatitis A Outbreak in County

Small business owners near areas where the Hepatitis A virus is prevalent are worried that one misstep can have serious consequences--like infecting customers and losing business.

The concern comes after an employee at World Famous restaurant in Pacific Beach contracted the virus and may have exposed hundreds of customers. All of this--amid one of the worst Hepatitis A outbreaks in decades in San Diego County.

"I don’t think anyone wants to be the focus of something negative," said Stephen Zolezzi, the President of the Food and Beverage Association. "Whether it’s an outbreak of infectious Hepatitis A or anything else."

"This outbreak is a bit unique in that it has nothing to do with food safety," Zolezzi said.

The California Restaurant Association said local restaurants are strongly encouraging all food handlers to get vaccinated.

The latest numbers from the county indicated 16 people have died and 421 people have been infected with Hepatitis A since November. To date,  the county has already vaccinated 21,088 people.

Phillip Zunshine of Mission Hills told NBC 7, he will think twice before eating in the Gaslamp District of Downtown San Diego. He also said he would not eat at World Famous after the scare with Hepatitis A.

"I could eat anywhere," he said. "Why would I go somewhere with a Hepatitis A outbreak?"

But Zolezzi told NBC 7 if restaurants follow sanitation requirements closely, there should not be an issue.

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