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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

If it was not for Thomas Geyer of Quad-City Times and an unnamed reporter at KWQC, the customers of a Milan, Illinois McDonalds might never know where they got Hepatitis A

Thank goodness for what is left of a free press. If not for the Quad-City Times and KWQC, the folks of Rock Island County would not know the following:

From KWQC – Hepatitis A Outbreak Latest

  • Rock Island County now has 14 with Hepatitis A. That brings the total number to 20 cases, with 11 people being hospitalized.
  • Two workers at the Milan McDonald’s tested positive for Hepatitis A but those tests came back a month ago.
  • Even though the first case was confirmed back in mid-June, the Rock Island County Health Department didn’t close the McDonald’s until this past Wednesday.
  • The health department now says it didn’t respond back then because it didn’t know back then. The health department says it didn’t find out about the case on June 9th until July 10th, a month later because the provider who diagnosed a Milan McDonald’s employee with Hepatitis A back on June 9th did not report that case as required. As a result, another month went by before steps could be taken.
  • The Health Department says in addition to the two confirmed cases at the Milan McDonalds, there are also confirmed Hepatitis A cases involving other local businesses.

From the Quad-City Times – Rock Island County to set up hepatitis A vaccination clinic Monday, Tuesday

  • The Rock Island County Health Department will offer vaccination clinics Monday and Tuesday at Rock Island High School for those people who dined at a Milan, Ill., McDonald’s restaurant connected to a recent hepatitis A outbreak. The clinics will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hepatitis A vaccine will be given to people ages 1-40, while immune globulin will be administered to people under 1 year of age or over 40 years of age. Eligible recipients of the vaccines are those who consumed food or beverages at the Milan McDonald’s from July 6-10 and July 13-14.
  • If a person receives the vaccine or immune globulin more than 14 days after they have eaten at the Milan McDonald’s, it might not provide protection.
  • The county has procured enough Hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin to vaccinate between 5,000 and 10,000 people who may have dined at the restaurant during the specified time periods.

So, there has been Hepatitis A at McDonalds since at least late May (ill worker diagnosed July 9 would have been infectious weeks earlier).  And, that worker likely infected the other worker and customers over weeks.

One wonders why the physician who diagnosed the worker in June did not alert authorities? 

One wonders if management at the Milan McDonalds knew the worker to be sick?

One wonders why it took Rock Island County Health Department so long to get IG shot prepared?

  • Marymary

    We had a Hepatitis A situation in my state a few years ago that involved a popular fast food restaurant chain (not McDonald’s). The situation was not in my county, but from what I remember, the ill employee actually had obvious symptoms before the restaurant management did anything. The employee had been tested at the local hospital, but there was some delay in getting the initial test results, so s/he was tested again before the diagnosis was confirmed, IIRC. I’m not sure how long it took for the health dept. to be notified, but because of the delays and shall we say “miscommunication” the public and co-workers and family of the ill employee were put at risk. Because thousands of people may have been exposed to Hep A, almost all of my state’s Hep A vaccines and immune globulin had to be used to deal with the situation. If another Hep A problem had come up at that time, the state would have been hard-pressed to get more meds. Miraculously, no one other than other members of the ill employee’s family became ill.
    I remember reviewing the employee health section of the food code with retail food establishment managers, only to be greeted almost 100% of the time with glazed over eyes and “Yeah, yeah. We never let anyone work sick, you don’t need to worry about that.” Having said that, I do think that the employee health section of the food code could not be effective against Hepatitis A, as it required either symptoms or diagnosis for management to act.