Restaurant Closed After Hepatitis A Diagnosed

Health officials in Arlington are offering free vaccinations to anyone who may have eaten at a local restaurant where an employee was discovered to have Hepatitis A.

NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that an estimated 3,800 customers ate at the Friendly's restaurant at 105 Broadway between June 4 and June 15 since an employee there was diagnosed with the highly contagious virus that affects the liver.

The town health department is not doing screenings, but it is offering free immunoglobulin shots to customers. In the meantime, the restaurant has been shut down while an investigation is performed, citing unsanitary food conditions.

"I've watched them scoop ice cream and stuff and you see the person pulls his hand out and there's like 20 different flavors of ice cream on his bare hands. They should have gloves on there," said former employee Tim Smith.

Hepatitis A is spread as a result of fecal contamination and can be spread from one person to another through close contact or through food handling, said health officials. Some symptoms to watch for are vomiting, diarreah or jaundice, said health worker Christine Connolly. People with weak immune systems, children and pregnant women are especially at risk.

One customer said he will have his family immunized.

"Absolutely. Absolutely. I have two kids. One has a slight medical condition and, so you have to just in case. You never know," said Robert Whelan.

The town will hold a clinic Friday for anyone who wants to be immunized. Hours are from 9 a.m. until noon and again from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Symmes Hospital. Arlington has set up a hotline at 781-316-3413 for those who ate at the restaurant.