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Montgomery County Restaurant Shut Down While Officials Investigate Deadly Hepatitis A Outbreak

WEST NORRITON, Pa. (CBS) -- Health officials have shut down a Montgomery County restaurant while they investigate a deadly hepatitis A outbreak. Gino's Ristorante and Pizzeria on West Main Street in West Norriton is shut down until further notice.

It's a truly fluid situation with many questions remaining unanswered. CBS3 spoke to the brother and cousin of the two current owners of Gino's, who was very distraught about one aspect of this story -- the reputational hit his family's restaurant is taking.

Giovanni Badalamenti's father opened Gino's Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant 50 years ago.

Today, his brother and cousin run it and on Friday afternoon, the Montgomery County Office of Public Health closed Gino's doors temporarily as it continues to investigate the cause of a deadly hepatitis A outbreak in the county.

The department confirmed Saturday it is investigating a second possible death related to the outbreak.

"There's a lot of social media things, rumors are spreading. And they're rumors because the board of health has been here several times in the last month checking to see if everything's OK and everything's checked out perfect for them," Badalamenti said.

He says the Office of Public Health has been here three times in the last week and found no problems.

On Monday, all employees, including his brother and cousin, will be checked out by the Office of Public Health.

"They want to make sure that everything, that things that are out there, they want to make sure that these people are OK. They're concerned as well for the people that have gotten sick," Badalamenti said.

Badalamenti said his brother and cousin are torn up over all of this but want their customers to know this.

"I want them to know that this restaurant is not going away and these guys, they work every day to help the community. They provide food to the community," Badalamenti said.

At this point, 11 cases are under investigation. Nine have been confirmed to have been infected; seven of those have been hospitalized, one person has died of the virus and another death is still being investigated.

Some people infected with hepatitis A have no symptoms. If they do develop, it's usually between two to seven weeks, and some can remain ill for up to six months.

The source of the outbreak remains under investigation and that's why Gino's was closed until the Montgomery County Office of Public Health, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, can determine exactly where this outbreak started.

CBS3's Siafa Lewis and Alecia Reid contributed to this report.

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