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Terry DeMio, tdemio@enquirer.com

Delaware public health officials warn users of the Buffalo Wild Wings in Middletown that they may have been exposed to the Hepatitis A restaurant between March 31 and April 10.

The dates cover much of March Madness and the NCAA basketball tournament, an event that attracts many customers at the sports bar and grill.

On Wednesday, when he learned of the possible burdens, the restaurant was voluntarily closed for cleaning and disinfection before reopening on Thursday.

The state did not say if the infection came from an employee or customer. A spokeswoman said that privacy laws prevent them from identifying the source of the infection or the status of the source.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection that affects the liver. It spreads when a person unknowingly picks up the virus from items, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undiscovered amounts of stool from an infected person.

The virus can spread in a restaurant if an infected person does not wash their hands sufficiently after using the toilet, or prepares food or shares utensils while eating.

Symptoms may include loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, fever, abdominal pain, yellowing of the eye skin, and brown urine and light stools. They usually appear 15 to 50 days after exposure.

If someone develops these symptoms, they should stay at home and contact their doctor immediately.

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There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Normally, rest, fluid and a good diet are prescribed. People with hepatitis A should avoid drugs and alcohol, as this can damage the liver as it fights the virus.

Public health officials emphasized that it is "relatively rare" for restaurant guests to become infected with hepatitis in a restaurant.

However, anyone who has had a meal or drink at the Middletown Buffalo Wild Wings location between March 31 and April 10, suggests the option of seeing a doctor for further advice, especially those with symptoms have, are pregnant or suffer from chronic diseases.

Employees at the grocery store were advised to contact their healthcare provider for post-exposure prophylaxis, which may include the hepatitis A vaccine or a shot of immunoglobulin to prevent serious illness.

Those who do not have primary health care should visit a local walk-in medical center (not an emergency room), and those who are uninsured or uninsured should contact one of the following DPH hospitals:

  • Porter State Service Center, 509 W. 8th St., Wilmington. 302-777-2860
  • Hudson State Service Center, 501 Ogletown Road, Newark. 302-283-7587, Option 2
  • Kent County Health Unit, River Road, Dover. 302-857-5140
  • Sussex County Health Unit, 544. S. Bedford St., Georgetown. 302-515-3220

For more information, contact the Department of Infectious Diseases (Epidemiology) at 302-744-4990 or 1-800-282-8672.

Contact Betsy Price at 302-324-2884 or beprice@delawareonline.com.

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