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Pizza parlor patrons line up for Hepatitis A immunization

Associated Press

SLAYTON, Minn. — Nearly 1,400 people who might have been exposed to hepatitis A at a pizza restaurant lined up Friday for immunization shots as the number of confirmed cases rose to three and officials said they expected more.

The immune globulin shots were being offered at the Murray County Fairgrounds for people who ate at the Pizza Ranch in Slayton. The restaurant has been closed since Tuesday, when tests confirmed that two employees were infected by the virus that causes the liver disease, according to the state Department of Health.

A third case, involving a restaurant patron, was confirmed Friday, department spokesman Doug Schultz said.

Schultz said that "wasn’t unexpected, but it does tell us there was some transmission of the disease that occurred at the restaurant. ... Quite frankly, we would expect to see more cases."

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Officials don’t know how many more cases, Schultz said. The shots might not be effective for everyone who might have been exposed, he said.

"It’s not quite an outbreak yet," said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, acting state epidemiologist, but "we’re very concerned."

Hepatitis A is commonly transmitted by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by infected feces. Lynfield said it’s possible as many as 3,000 restaurant customers were exposed to the virus since early April.

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