For the third time in as many weeks, a restaurant in South Carolina is being linked to a possible hepatitis A exposure, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).
According to an SCDHEC news release, the restaurant was notified on May 31, 2019 (last Friday) that one of its employees had tested positive for hepatitis A.
“Customers who ate there between May 20 and May 23, 2019, could have been exposed to the virus,” the release added, noting the agency “is working with Zaxby’s to investigate possible exposures and provide guidance for preventive treatment for anyone who may be affected.”
“The concern here is not the restaurant,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell. “It is with a food handler who has hepatitis A infection. As a precaution, in these situations, vaccination should be considered for individuals who were exposed during the time the food handler was contagious.”
SCDHEC added in its release that patrons who were “potentially exposed” between May 21 and May 23 are encouraged to “contact their medical provider or pharmacy about post exposure treatment.” They can also visit Northwoods Public Health Clinic at 2070 Northbrook Boulevard, Suite #A20 in North Charleston anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST this Tuesday through Thursday (June 4-6) to see if they need to be vaccinated.
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Patrons who visited the restaurant on May 20 are “not likely to benefit from post-exposure treatment,” according to SCDHEC.
Those individuals are encouraged to “watch for symptoms of infection, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain or yellowing of the eyes and skin” and to “seek medical care if symptoms develop.”
Patrons of the restaurant with concerns or questions are urged to call SCDHEC’s “Careline” at 1-855-4SC-DHEC (1-855-472-3432). Staff will be available at that number between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday to answer your questions.
SCDHEC declared a statewide outbreak of hepatitis A on May 13. According to the latest data from the agency, between November 1, 2018, and May 31, 2019, there have been 121 reported cases of hepatitis A in the Palmetto State. That is more than five times the number of cases (19) typically seen in a year in South Carolina.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection – one of several that causes inflammation “affecting your liver’s ability to function,” according to the Mayo Clinic. It is caused by a virus typically transmitted through person-to-person contact with someone who has the infection – or through eating or drinking food or water contaminated by an infected person.
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