Hepatitis A confirmed in Hardee's employee; public health officials encourage vaccinations

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North Carolina public health officials are advising Charlotte residents who may have eaten at a local fast food restaurant to get vaccinated against Hepatitis A after an outbreak was confirmed. 

Anyone who ate at the Hardee's restaurant at 2604 Little Rock Rd. between June 13 and 23 should get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

Public Health Director Gibbie Harris announced on Tuesday that the outbreak identified earlier this month has led to five additional cases, one of which was an employee at the Hardee's. 

About 4,000 people were possibly exposed, health officials said Tuesday.

RELATED: Five cases of hepatitis A confirmed in Mecklenburg County

“According to the CDC, the vaccine must be given within 14 days of exposure for the vaccine to be effective," Harris said. 

Public Health vaccination clinics are being held for anyone who might have been exposed, and for residents who meet the high-risk factors:

  • Wednesday, June 27 from 8 a.m. – 7.p.m, at Northwest Health Department, 2845 Beatties Ford Rd. and Southeast Health Department, 249 Billingsley Rd., Charlotte
  • Thursday, June 28 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., at Northwest Health Department, 2845 Beatties Ford Rd. and Southeast Health Department, 249 Billingsley Rd., Charlotte 
  • Friday, June 29 from 3 p.m. – 8p.m. at the Hal Marshall Building, 700 N. Tryon St., Charlotte.
  • Saturday, June 30 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.at the Hal Marshall Building, 700 N. Tryon St, Charlotte.
  • Sunday, July 1 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Hal Marshall Building, 700 N. Tryon St, Charlotte.

Officials say it doesn't appear that the additional cases originated from the restaurant, but from the affected employee who went into work and handled food. 

About Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease spread from person to person. Symptoms can last from weeks to months.

It spreads through the fecal-oral route, most commonly by forgetting to wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers, having sex with infected partners and eating or drinking foods contaminated by hepatitis A.

The symptoms of hepatitis A include nausea, fever, yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine, grey feces, joint pain, feeling tired, loss of appetite and stomach pain.

The most at risk groups are those who are around or have sexual contact with someone who is infected, men who have sex with other men, recreational drugs users, whether injected or not, anyone who has traveled from countries where hepatitis A is common and homeless individuals. 

Since 2012, hepatitis A virus cases have been on the rise across the country. Between July 2016 to November 2017, the CDC reports 1200 cases have occurred nationally, including 826 hospitalizations and 37 deaths. The outbreaks have occurred in California, Utah, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia and now North Carolina. 

The best way to stay safe is to get vaccinated. Public health staff advise anyone at risk to come to a clinic, and they say they they will continue to work with medical providers and community partners to educate residents, and to implement a plan to educate and encourage vaccination of those most at-risk.