Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria can reopen following Montco hepatitis A investigation

Ten confirmed cases were linked to a November exposure to the virus, typically spread through poor hygiene. Three people died.

Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria is shut until further notice. (6abc)

Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria is shut until further notice. (6abc)

Montgomery County’s Office of Public Health said Thursday evening that Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in West Norriton had been authorized to reopen, after it was ordered closed for several weeks following a hepatitis A outbreak.

There have been 10 confirmed cases related to the outbreak of hepatitis A, a liver infection that can range in severity from mild to serious illness.  Seven people were hospitalized, and three people died. Three additional cases of suspected hepatitis A are not yet confirmed. The exposure occurred in late November and no longer presents a risk to the public, county officials said.

Typically, hepatitis A spreads through close contact with an infected person or when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks that are contaminated by small amounts of feces from an infected person.

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During a reopening inspection at Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria on Thursday, officials said, the Office of Public Health’s Division of Environmental Field Services educated the facility about thorough hand-washing, as well as proper glove and utensil use when handling ready-to-eat foods. Inspectors surveyed the restaurant’s kitchen, dining room, wait stations and restrooms, and contact surfaces, and confirmed that the facility was cleaned and sanitized as instructed, officials said. All potential food sources were disposed of prior to reopening. All employees who worked during the exposure period were tested for hepatitis A and offered the hepatitis vaccination.

The Division of Environmental Field Services will conduct additional inspections in the future, officials said.

Anyone experiencing symptoms of hepatitis A, such as diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and fatigue,  should contact their doctor, officials said. Symptoms usually appear two to seven weeks after infection, but many people do not present symptoms and can still spread the virus.

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination, health experts say, as well as practicing good hand hygiene.

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Anyone with questions or concerns can contact the county Office of Public Health by filling out this survey.

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