NEW ORLEANS — Already dealing with health concerns from the COVID pandemic, Galatoire’s restaurant in New Orleans is now reportedly dealing with cases of Hepatitis A.
The restaurant released a statement to WWLTV saying the state department of health alerted them to a “potential incident dating from early to mid-august.” The statement does not say how many cases are linked to the restaurant, the possible source or whether employees or customers were infected.
“It was recently brought to our attention by the Louisiana Department of Health of a potential incident dating from early to mid-August.
Consistent with our own high standards, we embraced the assistance of the Department of Health and together outlined steps Galatoire’s could take to be as responsive as possible for our team and our guests. We acted on the Office’s recommendations immediately.
Galatoire’s underwent a standard inspection by the Department of Health and passed with high marks, as we normally do.
We asked about any additional activities we could take in situations like these. The Department of Health recommended a state program that is available to vaccinate all employees, which we immediately agreed to and administered.
Galatoire’s protocols protecting both our guests and staff are extensive and stronger than ever.
In our discussions with state public health officials and other medical professionals, we understand that cases like these are on the rise in Louisiana and nationally. We encourage anyone with questions about public health issues to contact the Louisiana Department of Health for more information."
“It’s hard to say where this infection may be coming from. It could be an infected food handler. It could be there is some food they got that was infected prior to delivery,” said Dr. David Mushatt, chief of adult infectious diseases at Tulane School of Medicine.
“Obviously, eating at a restaurant, some things are out of your control, but I don’t think it’s grounds for undue paranoia about eating out,” said Dr. Mushatt. “Frankly I’d be a little more concerned right now about COVID in restaurants.”
Mushatt says Hepatitis A is a very contagious, vaccine-preventable, liver infection spread through ingestion. Symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, but aren’t long lasting.
“Hepatitis A is an acute infection that does not require medication to treat it per say because it will go away if you survive the infection and most people do,” said Mushatt.
Dr. Mushatt says Hepatitis A cases have been on the rise since 2016.
“Some of that is associated with the opioid epidemic and the increase in injection drug use,” Mushatt said.
According to the State Department of health, as of Sept. 17, there were 1,249 cases, with four deaths. Orleans, Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes have the highest case counts in Southeast Louisiana.
At Galatoire’s, the restaurant is having employees vaccinated, which Dr. Mushatt says is something everyone should think about.
“You can see your primary care doctor and you can have them check your records to see if you’re vaccinated. If not, you can get a blood test to see if your immune,” Mushatt said.