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Pizza restaurant worker in Vero Beach tests positive for hepatitis A, health officials say

Posted at 1:45 PM, Aug 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-02 23:57:55-04

VERO BEACH, Fla. — A food service worker in Indian River County has tested positive for hepatitis A, health officials confirmed Friday.

According to the Florida Department of Health, a person who worked at Pizza Mia, located at 1115 21st St. in Vero Beach, was recently diagnosed with the disease.

That worker may have exposed customers to the contagious virus between July 19 and July 23.

The owner of Pizza Mia, Peter Schaeperkoetter, says the employee was recently hired and likely contracted the virus before she was hired.

He says she mainly cleaned tables and answered phone calls.

“She worked four days until she started getting symptoms of the hepatitis."

Then, she called in sick and he learned she had Hepatitis A.

“The first thing we do, we had all the agencies come out and go through with a fine tooth comb, go through everything, and make sure we do our procedures. They’re flawless, otherwise they’d shut us down,” Schaeperkoetter said.

Schaeperkoetter said a nurse visited the restaurant Friday morning to give all employees vaccines.

Now, he wants his entire community to be on guard.

“This is the important thing we have to realize in our neighborhood. It’s in our neighborhood now.”

If you ate at the restaurant during that time, health officials urge you to get the hepatitis A vaccine right away, as it can provide protection against the disease within two weeks of exposure.

Pizza Mia customers should monitor for the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale white stools
  • Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)

Anyone experiencing those symptoms should seek medical attention right away.

On Thursday, the Florida Surgeon General declared a Public Health Emergency for the state because of hepatitis A. That designation allows Florida to receive more resources to combating the spread of the virus.

According to the Florida Department of Health, here are the number of hepatitis A cases in our area as of July 27:

  • Palm Beach County: 42
  • Martin County: 32
  • St. Lucie County: 26
  • Okeechobee County: 6
  • Indian River County: 4

For more information about hepatitis A in Indian River County, call 772-794-7475, or click here.

This is a developing story. Stay with WPTV for updates.