Fast-food chain reimburses county for September hepatitis inoculations

November 12, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

A fast-food restaurant chain has paid the bill for a health crisis that led to hepatitis A inoculations in Carroll County for more than 2,000 people.

Wendy's Restaurants has reimbursed the county Health Department for $32,662 worth of immune globulin administered at a two-day clinic in September, after an employee of the company's Eldersburg restaurant tested positive for the contagious virus.

"They covered all of our costs," said Larry L. Leitch, health officer for Carroll County, who received the check Monday. "When I asked them to pay the bill, they didn't hesitate for a minute."

Anyone who had eaten at the restaurant between Sept. 8 and 12 was encouraged to get a shot at the county's free clinic, set up at Springfield Hospital Center on Sept. 24 and 25.

The staff inoculated anyone who feared exposure to the virus. The antibody, if given within two weeks of exposure, helps prevent the virus that attacks the liver.

Paying for the shots "was our opportunity of saying that we are doing everything we can," said Beth Shumway, spokeswoman for DavCo Restaurants, owner of area Wendy's restaurants.

The incubation period for the disease has passed with no other employee and no restaurant patron contracting hepatitis A, which is often a food-borne disease associated with poor hygiene.

"This was an unfortunate incident that inconvenienced many, but we are pleased no employee and no guest contracted the illness," Shumway said.

The Eldersburg restaurant, which opened in April 1994 near Carrolltown Center, employs about 30. Before the incident, it served about 100 customers each weekday and more than 200 a day on weekends.

Business has not returned to those levels, said Shumway, but the company is encouraged by the number of customers who are coming back.

Pub Date: 11/12/98

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