Kelly’s Roast Beef closes its Saugus location after an employee tests positive for typhoid fever

The employee is recovering.

Kelly's Roast Beef
A roast beef sandwich from Kelly's Roast Beef. –Globe Staff Photo/Wendy Maeda

The Saugus location of Kelly’s Roast Beef closed on Tuesday after an employee tested positive for Salmonella Typhi, more commonly known as typhoid fever, Dan Doherty, vice president of Kelly’s, told Boston.com.

“The state’s Department of Public Health contacted us on Monday late afternoon,” Doherty said. “They told us that there’s an employee that works for us that contracted Salmonella Typhi, and that the process now would be that we would have to test all employees that may have worked with that person.”

Ann Scales, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, confirmed that the incident involves a single case of a food handler, and that the department is working with the Saugus Board of Health.

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“We are not aware of any cases among customers at this time,” she said.

The popular roast beef shop is currently in the process of testing 110 Saugus employees. While Doherty said that the Saugus Board of Health approved the restaurant to reopen, the absence of available staff means that the location will need to remain temporarily closed.

“When you’re testing all 110 employees, you don’t have the necessary staff,” Doherty said. “I’m looking at trying to move employees; I can bring other people in from other restaurants, but we want to do the right thing.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorizes typhoid fever as a life-threatening illness. According to the agency, approximately 22 million people are diagnosed with it worldwide annually, though that number is only about 350 in the United States, with most people in the US becoming infected while traveling to countries where the disease is common.

Doherty said that the affected employee may have traveled outside the country.

“The employee is recovering well,” he said.

On Tuesday, the roast beef shop posted a Facebook message detailing its temporary closure.

“A Saugus Kelly’s Roast Beef employee has an illness and for the safety of our employees and guests the Kelly’s ownership has decided to close until further notice while proper testing is conducted,” the message reads. “We have been approved to be open per the Saugus Board of Health, but due to having all of our employees having to be tested we can not properly staff the restaurant.”

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Doherty said that the Saugus outpost will ideally open in some limited fashion on Thursday with employees from other locations, but that the company first needs to address the safety of its employees before allowing business to go on as usual.

The Saugus Board of Health did not respond to a request for comment.