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Health Officials Rule Out Possible Second Case Of Hepatitis A In Hamilton Township, NJ

By Cleve Bryan

HAMILTON Twp., NJ (CBS) -  Fear of contracting hepatitis A drove hundreds of people to a vaccination clinic Thursday after learning a kitchen worker at Rosa's Restaurant and Catering is severely ill from the virus and may have been contaminating customer's food for weeks.

"I had something to eat at Rosa's on December 1st, so I'm not taking any chances," says Ted Tucci.

Hepatitis A is not fatal, but highly contagious and vaccine is not readily available in most doctors' offices.

Hamilton Township's health department bought one thousand doses and set up a clinic at a local fire house.

They've been inundated with calls since anyone who's eaten at Rosa's for about the last month could be at risk.

"It's averaging 250 to 275 a day, at the point we've been in the office until 9 at night returning calls," says Hamilton Township health officer Jeff Plunkett.

Late today, officials said the State Department of Health ruled out a possible second case of Hepatitis A of a frequent patron of Rosa's.

Officials say a series of tests conducted determined that the second individual was not infected by Hepatitis A.

After a first blood test, that officials say was eventually deemed to be a "false positive" result, two separate tests came back as negative, indicating that the patient did not have Hepatitis A.

Therefore, at this time, officials say the only confirmed individual in this case to have been determined to have Hepatitis A is the original employee of Rosa's.

The vaccine cost each person $35 and doesn't completely eliminate the risk of getting sick, but officials say it should help prevent a hepatitis A outbreak.

"I couldn't believe it at first but there's nothing you can do about it. I mean I think it could happen at any restaurant," says Josie Burns.

The clinic runs until 8 p.m. Thursday and health officials say if they run out of shots they'll consider buying more vaccine and setting up a second clinic. People who got shots have to get a booster in six months.

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