Thousands of people were potentially exposed to Hepatitis A after eating at one of two Hardees fast food restaurants in South Carolina. Notification of the potential exposure was broadcast after two employees had tested positive for the virus.
According to reports, some 5000 people had already been vaccinated. There is a window from the time of exposure to about 2 weeks out when a vaccination can prevent the disease. As we know, Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.
A lawsuit has already been filed for those 'who may have been infected".
Food operations, especially those who work with ready-to-eat foods, should institute a Food Workers Health Hygiene Program. Information is available from FDA as well as many state government websites.
Possible Hepatitis A Exposure at 2 Spartanburg Co. Hardee’s
DHEC Published: September 18, 2015, 5:27 pm Updated: September 20, 2015, 8:45 pm
For customers and staff who ate at either of these restaurants between Sep. 6 and 15, there is still time to get post-exposure treatment (the vaccine).
This first date will change daily (for e.g., for Monday, it will be Sep. 7 and 15) to reflect the 2 week post-exposure treatment window.
For these people who are still within the 14-day window, we are urging them to come to our clinics at the Spartanburg and Greenville County Health Departments to get free post-exposure treatment quickly.
In regards to post-exposure treatment, the vaccine is of no proven benefit when administered more than 14 days after exposure.
Therefore, as of today, customers and staff who ate at these restaurants between Aug. 31 and Sept. 5 are not likely to benefit from post-exposure treatment.
Anyone who ate at one these Hardee’s restaurants between these dates (Aug. 31 and Sept. 5) should watch for symptoms of infection, such as nausea, vomiting, and jaundice, which would cause yellowing of the eyes and skin, and seek medical care if symptoms develop.
People who may have been exposed to hepatitis A at two Hardee’s restaurants in Spartanburg County are now being treated.
Hours before the scheduled start time of a special weekend clinic, people were already waiting.
Jeff McCollam says he ate a biscuit from the Hardee’s in Duncan two weeks ago and heard about the news Friday night.
“Oh my gosh, just shocked, you know,” said McCollam. “It could happen anywhere. But just shocked.”
The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control says an employee at the Hardee’s in Lyman (12209 Greenville Hwy – aka Highway 29) and one at the Hardee’s in Duncan (1397 E. Main St.) both tested positive for hepatitis A after having close contact with each other.
DHEC says customers who ate at these Spartanburg County locations between August 31st and September 15th could have been exposed.
A DHEC medical consultant, Dr. Anna-Kathryn Rye, met with media outside the Spartanburg County Health Department Saturday.
“The main thing that I want to tell people is not to freak out,” said Dr. Rye. “The good thing about hepatitis A is that it’s preventable meaning you can get pre-exposure and post exposure treatment to help not get this virus.”
Rye also recommends customers and staff who as of Saturday ate at the Lyman area Hardee’s between September 6th and September 15th or the Duncan area Hardee’s between September 6th and September 13th should receive post-exposure treatment for hepatitis A.
That’s why they’re holding weekend clinics at the Spartanburg and Greenville health departments. The clinics are free and they’ll offer you post exposure treatment. You’ll get a vaccine, which is only good if you get it within two weeks of exposure.
Doctors say hepatitis A is a viral infection that attacks the liver and is highly contagious. People usually get sick within two to six weeks. Symptoms can last up to two months before it goes away.
“If they have any kind of fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or any of the yellowing of the eyes or skin should contact their doctor immediately,” said Dr. Rye.
Both Hardee’s locations are open for business. DHEC says they’re safe and there’s no more risk of exposure.
We also reached out to Hardee’s. The company released this statement:
“Hardee’s takes the health of its guests and employees very seriously. We are working closely with the appropriate authorities to ensure the health and safety of all our customers and employees.”
Doctors say the best way to keep hepatitis A from spreading is good hand hygiene. They say if you or your kids have symptoms, stay home from work, school and daycare.
Another special clinics is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 21st from 8:30 am to 5 pm at these two locations:
Spartanburg Health Department
151 E. Wood Street
Greenville Health Department
200 University Ridge
Or you can go by the health department anytime during the week.
You can also call DHEC directly at 1-800-868-0404. Operators will be available between 8am-6pm Saturday, Sunday and through the week.
DHEC says in Saturday’s clinics: 1,109 individuals received post-exposure treatment for hepatitis A and DHEC received 392 calls through its hotline from the public.
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Customers who ate at two Hardee’s restaurants in Spartanburg County might have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.
The two locations and dates are:
12209 Greenville Highway (aka Highway 29) in Lyman and involves the dates between Aug. 31 and Sept. 15, 2015.
1397 E. Main St. in Duncan and involves the dates between Sept. 1 and Sept. 13, 2015.
DHEC was notified on Sept. 17 that an employee of the Lyman-area restaurant tested positive for hepatitis A.
An investigation of this case revealed hepatitis A illness in a close contact that works at the Duncan-area Hardee’s location.
Customers and staff who consumed food or drink at these restaurants during these dates could have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.
“Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus,” said Dr. Anna-Kathryn Rye, M.D. and medical consultant in DHEC’s Bureau of Disease Control.
“People usually become sick within two to six weeks after being exposed to the virus, so it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible to prevent the virus from developing into hepatitis A infection.”
DHEC is working with these restaurants to identify and contact customers and staff who might have been exposed to the virus. This illness is not a foodborne outbreak.
Rye recommended that customers and staff who as of today ate at the Lyman-area restaurant between Sept. 4 and Sept. 15, 2015, or the Duncan-area restaurant between Sept. 4 and Sept. 13, 2015, should receive post-exposure treatment for hepatitis A.
Post-exposure treatment is recommended for individuals if it can be administered less than two weeks from their date of consuming anything from the restaurant with the last date being Sept. 15
Customers and staff who ate at these restaurants during these dates are encouraged to come to DHEC’s Spartanburg County Health Department or Greenville County Health Department for post-exposure treatment on Saturday, Sept. 19 or Sunday, Sept. 20 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Both health departments will also offer post-exposure treatment on Monday, Sept. 21 from 8:30 a.m to 5 p.m.
The Spartanburg County Health Department is located at 151 E. Wood St. in Spartanburg. The Greenville Health Department is located at 200 University Ridge in Greenville.
The vaccine is of no proven benefit when administered more than 14 days after exposure. As of today, customers and staff who ate at these restaurants between Aug. 31 and Sept. 3 are therefore not likely to benefit from post-exposure treatment.
Anyone who ate at one these Hardee’s restaurants between these dates should watch for symptoms of infection, such as nausea, vomiting, and jaundice, which would cause yellowing of the eyes and skin. Seek medical care if symptoms develop.
If you have a question or concern about possible exposure, please call DHEC at 1-800-868-0404. Operators are available Friday until 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6 p.m., and next Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 6 p.m.
For more information about hepatitis A, visit http://www.scdhec.gov/HepA.