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Pennsylvania Pizzeria Forced To Shut After Hepatitis A Outbreak

Your health is not something that can be compromised for momentary pleasures. The responsibility of keeping yourself safe and healthy ultimately lies upon you, and one must not indulge in careless behavior that may endanger it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has painted a gruesome picture of what happens when people don’t take their health and safety seriously. Amidst the already raging pandemic, the news of a Hepatitis A outbreak is certainly worrying for locals of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Pizzeria Forced To Shut After Hepatitis A Outbreak

A popular Italian restaurant named Gino’s has been shut down by health inspectors due to a suspected outbreak of Hepatitis A, along with several other safety violations.

Hepatitis A, also known as Hep A, is a virus that impacts the liver and is contagious. It is caused by the infection of the Hepatitis A virus in a person’s body.

Pennsylvania Pizzeria Forced To Shut After Hepatitis A Outbreak

This virus spreads through contaminated water or food. One may get infected if they have been in contact with someone who is infected with the Hep A virus. An infected person may experience symptoms like fever, joint pain, jaundice, fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach pain, and nausea. It can be prevented if one is vaccinated against Hepatitis A.

If not vaccinated, you can seek treatment from a medical professional; the condition may clear up in 1 to 2 months with proper rest and sufficient hydration.

The restaurant in focus, Gino’s Ristorante and Pizzeria, is located in West Norriton. It was identified as the epicenter of the Hepatitis A outbreak by the Montgomery County Office of Public Health. This virus outbreak has caused one person’s death.

This person further infected 9 other people. Another person’s death is being investigated and is suspected to be caused by the same virus. This restaurant being the epicenter is not shocking as there have been multiple cases of health code violations by them.

The health department of Pennsylvania first flagged this restaurant in March 2020, with 17 health code violations. The health inspectors reported mouse-like droppings found under the soda dispensing boxes on the front counter of the restaurant.

This inspection in March led to Gino’s getting the designation of ‘Out of compliance’ after the unannounced inspection on 4th March 2020. Again, in July 2020, Gino’s was flagged for 23 violations and was found to be not complying with Pennsylvania’s food and safety regulations.

This time, inspectors reported fly-like insects in the restaurant and servers handling ready-to-eat food with their bare hands. The Hepatitis A outbreak was the last straw that forced them to shut on 5th January 2022.

Although all of the above sounds concerning, the restaurant’s 104 online reviews paint a completely different picture. Gino’s Ristorante and Pizzeria has 4-star ratings on Yelp, with locals calling it the neighborhood gem and praising it for its interiors and large portions of food.

This restaurant, which is reviewed as good by many, had received 2 ‘Out of Compliance’ ratings from the health department of Montgomery county and Pennsylvania, in 2020 itself.

The attorney for Gino’s claims that the news of the outbreak is an unfounded rumor and requested the regular customers of Gino’s to come forward and report the people who are spreading this malicious news in an attempt to destroy the restaurant’s reputation.

Gino’s takes great pride in its excellent reputation of serving outstanding Italian food and does not want false rumors to affect its reputation. He also mentioned that the restaurant was following all COVID safety protocols and none of their working staff was found sick.

The attorney also stated that there had been no food issues reported by any of the customers and that they cannot be held responsible for something they did not do.   

The health department of Pennsylvania has advised its citizens to get vaccinated for Hepatitis A if not already vaccinated and take necessary precautions to protect themselves.

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