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Ill. health officials link McD unit to Hepatitis A outbreak

ROCK ISLAND Ill. State and local health officials here Tuesday continued giving either Hepatitis A vaccinations or immune globulin shots to consumers who ate at a franchised McDonald's in nearby Milan July 6-10 or July 13-14, where Illinois authorities said an employee diagnosed with Hepatitis reportedly worked while infectious.

The number of consumers exposed at the restaurant is potentially in the thousands, but information was not immediately available about the volume of injections given during the two-day shot clinic at Rock Island High School. The clinic began Monday and stemmed from an ongoing state and local investigation into a Hepatitis A outbreak with 18 confirmed cases as of Sunday, Illinois Department of Public Health officials said. Hepatitis A is a viral infection that can lead to an inflammation of the liver and from which most people recover without hospitalization or long-term health problems.

“The health and safety of our customers and employees is a priority that will never knowingly be compromised,” Kevin Murphy, owner of the franchised McDonald’s in Milan, said in a written statement. Contradicting timelines and scenarios presented in some media reports and online postings, he added, “Once we were notified of this matter by the Rock Island County Health Department on July 13, we took immediate corrective action to address their concerns. No one ill knowingly worked in our restaurant once we were notified.”

Rock Island County Health Department officials could not be reached for comment at press time.

Danya Proud of parent McDonald’s Corp. of Oak Brook, Ill., said in a written statement, “At no time has the [county] health department cited McDonald's as the source.” She noted that “previous media reports have alluded to this,” but “to infer this is misleading, and inaccurate.”

Proud said Rock Island County health officials have indicated there are “potentially multiple sources involved in this matter – not just McDonald’s.”

State officials, however, are citing an association between McDonald’s and the outbreak. A July 19 press release about the incident reads: “A foodservice worker employed by the McDonald’s restaurant in Milan, Ill., and diagnosed with Hepatitis A was reported to have worked during his/her infectious period and handled food items that were not subsequently cooked.” That release notes that people eligible for free shots at the shot clinic are those who ate in the restaurant from July 6-10 and on July 13 and July 14.

Contact Alan J. Liddle at [email protected]

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