McDonald's sued after diner gets Hepatitis A

LOS ANGELES, July 23 (Reuters) - The parents of a teenage boy who allegedly contracted hepatitis A after eating at a McDonald's Corp MCD.N restaurant in Milan, Illinois, have sued and are seeking damages and other relief.

The lawsuit against the fast-food giant was filed on Thursday in the Circuit Court of the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit of Rock Island County, Illinois.

It claims that on July 12 -- weeks after eating at the Milan McDonald’s -- 16-year-old Dillon Mrasak came down with a very high fever, aches and fatigue. The teen was hospitalized and tested positive for hepatitis A, a highly contagious liver infection.

The source of the outbreak has not been confirmed, said McDonald’s spokeswoman Danya Proud, who declined to comment on pending legal matters.

Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A does not develop into potentially fatal chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis.

Hepatitis A is most often contracted from food or water contaminated with the virus -- which is present in the stool of people who are infected -- or from close contact with an infected person.

It can take two to seven weeks before symptoms appear.

Two workers who handled food at the McDonald’s operated by franchisee and co-defendant Kevin Murphy are among those who have fallen ill in the outbreak that has sickened more than 20 people in Illinois and Iowa.

The Rock Island County Health Department is investigating after receiving its first report of illness on July 10.

Lawyers also are seeking class-action status for a separate lawsuit filed July 21 on behalf of individuals who may have been exposed during the outbreak.

According to press reports, a Milan McDonald’s worker was hospitalized on June 16 and subsequently diagnosed with Hepatitis A. That worker, who handled food while she was infectious, said she informed her manager of the diagnosis.

Restaurant operator Murphy said he learned of the outbreak from the health department on July 13.

“When our franchisee was notified about this matter by the Rock Island County Health Department on July 13th, he took immediate action to address their concerns,” McDonald’s spokeswoman Proud said.

The Milan McDonald’s closed its doors on July 15 and reopened on July 18.

Milan is in the Quad Cities area near the Illinois-Iowa border and is about 160 miles west of Chicago.

More than 4,500 people have been vaccinated against Hepatitis A and more than 10,000 people may have been exposed. (Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; editing by Andre Grenon)