Customer, parent outraged over Hepatitis-A handling

Source of Article:  http://www.wqad.com/news/wqad-hepatitis-milan-reaction-071609,0,1837451.story

Reporter

July 16, 2009

MILAN, Illinois - Lunch customers coming to the Milan McDonalds on Thursday found the doors locked. Drive-up customers were being turned away. According to investigators, an outbreak of Hepatitis-A may be linked to employees or someone who ate there.

"As we were eating, my wife says, there's not very many people in the dining room," recalled Arnie Hanson.

Hanson, his wife and daughter were among the last to be served food on Wednesday evening. A manager had to unlock a door so they could leave.

"You should be able to trust who's preparing your food," he said. "It's very disappointing."

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 19 confirmed cases. 13 are in Rock Island County, and six more are being reported in Henry, Mercer, Warren and Woodford Counties.

"I'm concerned for the public's welfare as well as my child," added the parent of a McDonalds employee.

The woman, who did not wish to be identified, said her daughter worked from 11-5 on Wednesday. She accompanied her to the Rock Island County Health Department. That's where employees are being screened for Hepatitis-A.

"Hepatitis is a serious illness," she said. "It needs to be addressed, and I think they waited too long."

"In this situation, we don't have all the answers yet," said Theresa Foes, Rock Island County Health Department. "We're in the process of investigation."

At the Health Department, putting out a call for hygiene with food preparation and restrooms.

"If they're not careful with their own hand washing, they could transfer it to surfaces or to food or beverages they handle, and other people may be exposed," Foes said.

But customer Arnie Hanson feels let down that nobody at McDonalds told him what was going on. And the employee's mom is equally upset over the circumstances surrounding the outbreak.

"I'm very angry," she said. "They put my daughter in jeopardy along with the public and other people."

"We're upset about it because not only me and my wife ate there," Hanson concluded. "We also had our 11-year-old daughter. Now you're dealing with kids. It's just not right."

With this illness outbreak, something hard to swallow.

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