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Hundreds warned of hepatitis in N.H. food scare

CONCORD, N.H. — Up to 1,000 patrons of an American Legion hall and restaurant in Hopkinton are being asked to get vaccinated against hepatitis A after a bartender was diagnosed with the contagious liver disease.

Hepatitis A illnesses occur within 15 to 50 days of exposure to the virus and can last from a few weeks to several months. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine, and pale stool.

If given soon after exposure, vaccinations can prevent the illness from developing.

No one else has shown symptoms since the bartender's diagnosis, said Dr. Jose Montero, state public health director, and the chances that anyone contracted the disease from the worker are low, given that the person was not directly involved in food preparation.

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Public health officials are not releasing the name or gender of the bartender, who worked at both the American Legion and the Covered Bridge Restaurant in the Hopkinton village of Contoocook.

Anyone who ate or drank at either location between July 20 and Aug. 3 is being asked to get vaccinated at clinics being set up Friday from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 2  p.m., Montero said Wednesday.