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Report: Westchester Restaurant Hepatitis Scare May Cost Taxpayers $200,000

Bartaco in Port Chester.
Bartaco in Port Chester. Photo Credit: Google Maps

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - The Hepatitis scare that stemmed from a popular Port Chester restaurant may reportedly cost Westchester taxpayers more than $200,000 after the county provided free vaccinations to those that may have been exposed.

Nearly 3,000 vaccinations have been issued by county health officials since the scare at bartaco last month, with those vaccinations costing between $75,000 and $210,000 according to a lohud report released on Monday.

The Westchester County Department of Health issued an alert on Oct. 25 warning that anyone who ate or drank at bartaco between Oct. 12 and Oct. 23 receive preventive treatment against the viral illness after an employee worked while infectious.

Health officials cautioned that treatment against Hepatitis A is only effective within two weeks of exposure, so diners should hurry to see their doctors if they ate at the location.

The scare led to a class action lawsuit that was filed on behalf of all parties exposed to the virus as a result of eating at the restaurant. It was filed by a Rochester-based law firm on behalf of Yonkers resident Crystal Lopez.

In an effort to assist residents, the Health Department provided vaccinations and preventative treatment for free, which thousands of Westchester residents accepted.

“Hepatitis A is generally a mild illness whose symptoms include fatigue, fever, poor appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine, light-colored stool and jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes,” Sherlita Amler, Commissioner of Health said. “There are no special medications used to treat a person once symptoms appear, but Hepatitis A transmission to others can be prevented through proper hand washing.”

Bartaco was shut down on Oct. 25 and re-opened the following afternoon after an inspection. Officials said that the restaurant owners were cooperative and voluntarily vaccinated each of their employees for the illness as a result.

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