Another day, another fast food chain gone viral — and not in a cute, "cats on the internet" way. No, this is in the freaky, "foodborne illnesses are on the rise" sense. The latest exposure was traced back to a McDonald's location in Waterloo, New York, where the Seneca County Health Department confirmed a case of hepatitis A in one of the company's employees, according to Reuters.
The operator of this particular McDonald's branch, Jascor Inc., is now being sued by customer Christopher Welch for exposure to the virus, though Welch hasn't fallen ill. He's one of over a thousand customers who received vaccines at a clinic after dining at the restaurant in early November when an employee with hepatitis A was working, CNYCentral reports. There have not yet been confirmed cases of anyone getting sick from the exposure. A manager at the restaurant told Eater she "could not make any comment" on the news.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus is "highly contagious," with symptoms appearing "anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after exposure" and including fever, vomiting, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, and jaundice. The infection is usually transmitted "when an infected person does not wash his or her hands properly after going to the bathroom and touches other objects or food." (That's why those ubiquitous signs stating "Employees must wash hands before returning to work" are so important.)
McDonald's isn't the only chain currently facing a foodborne illness-based lawsuit; Chipotle was sued by multiple plaintiffs after a recent E. coli outbreak, its third such problem in the past few months. Two apps, available nationwide, are attempting to provide diners with more immediate information about restaurant inspection reports. What the Health, an independent start-up, uses GPS data to provide users with state-specific data, as different states and cities use different measures to rate restaurants and their cleanliness. Meanwhile, Yelp is slowly partnering with city-based departments of health to offer similar information to its users. So far, the data on Yelp is only available for restaurants in San Francisco.