WQAD reported today on a Rock Island County Sheriffs Department investigation into the hepatitis A outbreak in the Quad-Cities area. The outbreak has thus far resulted in at least 25 confirmed hepatitis A cases since June, most allegedly linked to the consumption of food and beverages served at the Milan McDonald’s restaurant, where “patient zero” worked while infectious.
By law, all hepatitis A cases diagnosed in Illinois are to be reported to proper health authoritieswithin 24 hours of diagnosis. "Patient zero’s" case, which was diagnosed on June 16th, should have been reported to the Rock Island County Health Department (RICHD) by June 17th, and would likely have resulted in the RICHD working with McDonald’s to prevent the spread of hepatitis A among McDonald’s customers and the exclusion of “patient zero” – Cheryl Scram — from the McDonald’s workforce until she was no longer infectious.
That did not happen, however, due to a breakdown in Trinity Medical Center’s reporting process that prevented a timely response by RICHD. According to a WQAD story:
Trinity Medical Center blames an internal oversight on their part when it comes to not reporting a June Hepatitis A case. This outbreak had caused the Milan McDonalds to close it’s doors for a few days last week. Vice President of Hospital Operations Kathy Cunningham said the Rock Island County Health Department called them on Monday, [July] 13th, about a June case. Trinity wasn’t’ aware of any cases and did their own investigation. That’s when the hospital realized this case, and three other July cases, fell through the cracks.
Although the hepatitis A case was not reported to RICHD until nearly a month after Cheryl Scram’s case was diagnosed, she reportedly told her manager that she had been treated for hepatitis A
when she returned to work on June 25th, yet she was not excluded from the McDonald’s workforce and continued to handle food items while infectious.
Lt. Bill Kauzlarich with the Rock Island
County Sheriffs Department is looking into several aspects of the outbreak. He wants to know, “If the ball was dropped, who dropped it, if things weren’t reported we want to know why they weren’t reported in a timely manner.”
More answers regarding the outbreak are sure to come, and if by no other means then through litigation. The Marler Clark law firm has already filed a class action lawsuit and an individual lawsuit against the Milan McDonald’s and McDonald’s Corporation.