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Worker at Cooper's Hawk in Palm Beach Gardens tests positive for hepatitis A; patrons urged to get vaccinated

Posted at 10:53 AM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 18:53:14-04

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A food service worker at Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant on PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens has tested positive for hepatitis A.

According to the Florida Department of Health, the employee may have exposed patrons to the contagious virus between May 1 and May 12.

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Health officials recommend that anyone who ate or drank at the restaurant between May 9 and May 12 get vaccinated.

Those who ate or drank there between May 1 and May 8 should observe for symptoms of hepatitis A:

  • Sudden onset of abdominal discomfort
  • Dark urine
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale white stools
  • Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)

The person who contacted hepatitis A is not working and has not worked since May 12. The restaurant said the health department has told it not to release details about the worker, who will not be back until medically cleared. It's unknown whether the employee worked directly with food preparation.

Every employee in the restaurant is getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and cannot come back to work until they are vaccinated.

The restaurant said it's working very closely with the health department, which inspected and cleared the building. The restaurant is currently open for business.

The restaurant has set up a hotline for those who have eaten there recently and have any questions or concerns. That hotline number is 888-719-5058.

Cooper's Hawk released this statement:

"Cooper’s Hawk is committed to the health and safety of our employees and guests. We are working closely with the Health Department to address and resolve all concerns. Once our employee notified us of their illness, we took immediate remedial action and began working with the Health Department to protect the public as well as our employees. The employee has not worked since May 12th; and although the employee did not work while exhibiting symptoms, Hepatitis A can be spread up to two weeks before symptoms begin. As a precaution, all employees are being vaccinated. Florida has had more than 1,750 cases of Hepatitis A and 18 of those are in Palm Beach community. We have superior safety measures in place and increased those measures over the past few months since the Health Department announced the state outbreak was connected with the nationwide Hepatitis A outbreak. We encourage anyone who may have been affected or who may have questions to call 888-719-5058."

As of May 23, 2019, the number of cases of locally identified hepatitis A infections in Palm Beach County is 18, compared to 13 cases in 2018.

To read the latest inspection report on the Palm Beach Gardens Cooper's Hawk restaurant, click here.