More than 100 customers potentially exposed to hepatitis A at Village Tavern in SouthPark

- Hundreds of customers who dined at a restaurant in Mecklenburg County last month were potentially exposed to hepatitis A after an employee tested positive for the liver disease, health officials say.

The possible exposure was at Village Tavern on Congress Street near SouthPark Mall on October 30, according to the Public Health Director Gibbie Harris. Officials recommend anyone who ate the restaurant on that day to get a hepatitis A vaccine as soon as possible.  

“After consulting with the State today, we are recommending a vaccination for all employees and exposed patrons who ate at Village Tavern located at 4201 Congress Street on Tuesday, Oct. 30,” Harris said. “According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the vaccine must be given within 14 days of exposure for it to be effective.”

Harris said approximately 150 customers ate at the restaurant that day.

The Village Tavern says it has been working proactively with the North Carolina Department of Health since the server was diagnosed.

“Yesterday, we were notified by the NC Department of Health of this situation and are taking precautionary steps to protect our other employees and our customers,” said Tony Santarelli, President and CEO of The Village Tavern, Inc. “The employee was not aware or showing symptoms the day he reported to work; and we are not aware of anyone getting sick or this employee infecting anyone. That said, food safety and personal hygiene are of the greatest importance in all of our restaurants, so we are proactively taking every step necessary to ensure the wellbeing of our employees and guests.”

Public Health vaccination clinics for those who might have been exposed and for residents who meet the high-risk factors for hepatitis A will be held at Mecklenburg County Health Department, 249 Billingsley Road:
 
•    Thursday, Nov. 8, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
•    Friday, Nov. 9, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
•    Saturday, Nov. 10, 9 a.m. – Noon
•    Sunday, Nov. 11, 9 a.m. – Noon
•    Monday, Nov. 12, 9 a.m. – Noon
•    Tuesday, Nov. 13, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

This new case is related to the outbreak in April, officials said. There were 22 cases related to that specific outbreak. North Carolina Public Health officials and the CDC declared an outbreak of hepatitis A in Mecklenburg County on June 6.

RELATED: Health officials confirm first death related to hepatitis A outbreak in North Carolina

Here are the facts about hepatitis A:

  • It’s a highly contagious liver disease caused by a virus spread from person to person. The illness can last for weeks to months. Only acute cases are reportable in North Carolina. 
  • Hepatitis A spreads through the fecal-oral route, most commonly by forgetting to wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers, having sexual contact with infected partners and eating or drinking foods contaminated by hepatitis A. 
  • Hepatitis A symptoms include nausea, fever, yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine, grey feces, joint pain, feeling tired, loss of appetite and stomach pain.
  • The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get the hepatitis A vaccine and to practice safe handwashing procedures – wash your hands under warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before you prepare food.
  • Again, the most at-risk groups for hepatitis A are people who come into contact with someone who has hepatitis A, travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common, men who have sexual contact with men, people who use drugs (both injection and non-injection) and people with clotting factor disorders.
     

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