Alta, a high-end restaurant in the West Village, briefly closed down after a pastry chef was found to have hepatitis A
How do “dark chocolate liquid truffles” sound? They may sound a little less appetizing when they come with the risk of contracting hepatitis A.
The chocolate truffles are just one of 11 items on the dessert menu at Alta bistro in the West Village, 64 W. 10th St,, a tapas restaurant now infamous for a recent health scare among patrons. A pastry chef reportedly discovered this week she had become infected with hepatitis A while vacationing in Mexico and may have infected diners who enjoyed dessert at the bistro between March 23 and April 2. Approximately 15 percent of patrons–or 450 people–consumed dessert in that time range, say restaurant owners.
According to the New York Department of Health, hepatitis A is spread by fecal-to-oral contact. There is no treatment for the disease, which attacks the liver, but most who contract it recover without complication.
Patrons who ate dessert at Alta during the timeframe are encouraged to get vaccinated against the disease or call 311 if they believe they are experiencing symptoms, which include jaundice, fatigue, nausea and diarrhea. The DOH has been offering free vaccines at the Chelsea Health Center through Monday and attempting to reach out to all diners who may have been exposed. The earlier the vaccine is received, the more effective it is in preventing illness.
While the restaurant is back open and serving up its decadent desserts, and the infected employee is no longer on the premises, some patrons may be understandably a bit wary. Others may find such scares par for the course when eating out in New York City.
Emma Moody, senior deputy editor of markets and finance at the Wall Street Journal, tweeted Saturday that she was vaccinated after eating at Alta during the timeframe in question:
Just back from getting Hep A shot at third-world NYC clinic. Victim of the Alta restaurant outbreak. #seriously?
— Emma Moody (@EmmaMoodyWSJ) April 6, 2013
Another patron told the New York Post while he doesn’t hold the restaurant accountable, he’ll probably never be able to eat there again.
The restaurant’s website was down as of Monday morning which, despite their insistence everything is back to normal, may not bode well for the establishment in the short term.
Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said in a statement: “This incident serves as an important reminder to always wash your hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of disease.”
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