Update 10/26/17: bartaco reopened late Thursday afternoon after passing its inspection by the Health Department. Patrons from the affected times and dates are still recommended to seek preventative treatment.
County health officials believe a bartaco employee who contracted the virus worked at the restaurant while infectious.
As transmission can occur by consuming food or drinks prepared by an infected person, patrons who dined at bartaco between October 12 and October 23 are strongly encouraged to seek preventative treatment for the illness, which affects the liver. Because prophylactic care is only effective within two weeks of exposure, anyone who dined on the earliest date needs to receive treatment by October 26.
To facilitate this, the Westchester County Health Department will offer free treatment at County Center in White Plains for anyone who ate at bartaco during the period of potential exposure and who does not have a prior history of Hepatitis A infection or vaccination.
Treatment will be available on Thursday, October 26 from 4 to 7:45 p.m.; Friday, October 26 from 12 to 4:45 p.m.; and Saturday, October 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an parent or guardian, and advance registration is highly recommended. Registration can be done online, or by calling 211 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Though outside the treatment window, bartaco patrons who drank in the establishment between August 22 and October 11 are encouraged to contact their health care provider in they experience symptoms such as fatigue, fever, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, or jaundice. Symptoms typically appear within four weeks of exposure, but not all who are infected may show symptoms right away or at all.
“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,” says Commissioner of Health Sherlita Amler. “Hepatitis A is generally a mild illness,” she adds, one that typically runs its course in a few months and leaves no lasting affects in otherwise healthy individuals.
In a statement released early on Wednesday October 25, the Westchester County Health Department stated that bartaco is cooperating fully with the investigation, voluntarily closing the restaurant pending re-inspection, tentatively planned for later the same day. bartaco is also voluntarily vaccinating all employees with the Hepatitis A vaccine.
“We are committed to food safety and the quality of our food,” says bartaco spokesperson Pam Ritz. “We have set-up a dedicated phone line for any guests who may wish to ask us questions directly and we encourage our guests to reach out at 844-617-8242, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.”
You can learn more about Hepatitis A at www.health.ny.gov.