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Number Of Cases In “Large Outbreak” Of Hepatitis Expected To Grow

September 10, 1985

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) _ The number of hepatitis cases involving workers and guests at the Danbury Hilton Hotel has reached 27 and is expected to increase, the city’s health director said Tuesday.

Health Director William P. Quinn said there have been 27 confirmed cases of Type A infectious hepatitis among employees at the hotel and two suspected cases involving guests who stayed at the hotel since the outbreak was discovered Aug. 26.

Quinn said he expects to see more cases since the incubation period for the highly contagious disease is 15 to 50 days.

The new cases being reported aren’t from recent exposure, but from exposure in late July or early August, Quinn said, adding that current guests at the hotel are not in danger of infection.

Contaminated food is suspected of spreading the disease, Quinn said.

Under the guidelines from the health department, food at the Hilton may now be prepared only by a few workers who must wear surgical gloves and follow strict sanitary rules.

Despite Quinn’s assurances, the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce on Monday postponed its annual awards dinner that had been scheduled at the Hilton for Sept. 21.

″Our position is to put the public mind at ease and give the Hilton time to settle its situation,″ said Ron Tarsi, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors.

Nick Bott, general manager at the Hilton, said the chamber’s decision was one of several postponements and cancellations recently.

″I can understand their fears,″ Bott said. ″The hotel is trying to reassure people and tell them that health officials say there is no cause for alarm.″

Quinn said the two suspected cases of hepatitis among guests can’t be confirmed as Type A infectious hepatitis without blood test results that are not expected until later this week.

The first employee confirmed to have Type A hepatitis was a server in the employees’ cafeteria. Type A is transmitted orally or through contact with feces or urine. A person eating or drinking contaminated food could become infected.

Symptoms include sudden fever, lack of appetite, nausea and abdominal discomfort. A yellowish tinge appears on the skin a few days later.

A mild case can last one to two weeks, while a severe case can last several months.

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