Hepatitis outbreak linked to downtown Long Beach steakhouse, health officials say

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Long Beach health officials announced Friday they confirmed "several'' cases of hepatitis A in customers who ate at the same downtown restaurant in late December, and they warned that others who dined at the eatery may have also been exposed.

According to the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, the patients all ate at 555 East American Steakhouse on or around Dec. 24. The exact source of the illness is still under investigation, but hepatitis A can be transmitted through consumption of contaminated food or water. Health officials did not disclose how many cases have been diagnosed.

"We are notifying the public of the exposure so that people can immediately seek medical care if they begin to develop symptoms,'' the city's health officer, Dr. Anissa Davis, said in a written statement. "Individuals who have been vaccinated for hepatitis A or have had the disease are protected. Those who are not immune to hepatitis A should consult their medical provider if they develop symptoms, and let their provider know they may have been exposed to hepatitis A.''

Symptoms of the illness can include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, dark urine, nausea and jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Most patients eventually recover completely, but some may require hospitalization or develop severe illness, health officials said.

City officials said the restaurant's management and staff are cooperating with health officials, and there is no continuing risk to the public at the eatery.

Individuals who ate at the restaurant around Dec. 24 should contact their medical provider if they develop symptoms. For more information on hepatitis A, visit longbeach.gov/hepa or call the Long Beach Health Department 562-570-7907.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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