Concord, Charlotte diners may have been exposed to hepatitis

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Health officials are warning people who ate recently at restaurants in Concord and Charlotte they may have been exposed to Hepatitis A.
According to a press release issued jointly today by the Cabarrus Health Alliance and the Mecklenburg County Health Department:
People who ate at Hooters restaurant on Bruton Smith Boulevard in Concord on Feb. 7 or 8 between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. may have been exposed to Hepatitis A.
People who ate or drank at the Whiskey Warehouse, 1221 The Plaza, in Charlotte on Feb. 6 between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; on Feb. 9 between 4:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m.; or on Feb. 13 between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., may also have been exposed to Hepatitis A.
An employee of both restaurant/bars has been confirmed with having viral Hepatitis A.
People who have had a Hepatitis A infection or one Hepatitis A vaccination are protected from the virus and do not need to take action, according to the press release.
The Mecklenburg County Health Department, Cabarrus Health Alliance and the N.C. Division of Public Health are recommending a vaccination or shot for exposed employees and patrons, if the vaccine or shot can be given within 14 days of the last exposure. 
The Cabarrus Health Alliance, 300 Mooresville Road, Kannapolis, will offer vaccinations Wednesday through Friday this week between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day for Cabarrus residents. No appointment is necessary. For more information, call the Health Alliance at 704-920-1213.
The vaccine is a prevention measure only. If symptoms are already present, consult with a health care provider. 
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis A virus.  The Hepatitis vaccine is very effective in reducing the risk of disease when administered within 14 days of the last day of exposure., the press release said.
Hepatitis A is usually spread by eating or drinking items that have been contaminated with the virus or by close personal contact with an infected person. Symptoms appear two to seven weeks after exposure and commonly include fever, a feeling of being unwell, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea and abdominal discomfort; urine may become darker in color and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes) may appear.
Some people, especially children, may not develop jaundice and may have an illness so mild that it can go unnoticed. However, even mildly ill persons can still be highly infectious. Most people recover without complications after several weeks. People who have pre-existing liver problems can become extremely ill if they contract Hepatitis A.  Anyone who experiences these symptoms should see their doctor, health officials said.
Careful hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A and should include vigorous washing of hands with soap and running water for minimum of 20 seconds. All surfaces should be washed including the back of the hands, wrists, between fingers and under fingernails. This is especially important after using the bathroom and before handling food or beverages.  Anyone who may have been exposed is strongly encouraged to follow this practice to reduce the risk of spreading illness to others.