DHEC Advises of Possible Hepatitis A Exposures At local Aiken Restaurant
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 4, 2019
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Customers who ate at the Aiken Brewing Company on Laurens Street SW in downtown Aiken might have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.
DHEC was notified on Jan. 31, 2019 that an employee of the restaurant tested positive for hepatitis A. Customers who ate there between Jan. 11 and Jan. 26, 2019 could have been exposed to the virus. SC DHEC is working with the Aiken Brewing Company to investigate possible exposures and arrange preventive treatment for anyone who may be affected.
“Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus,” said Dr. Linda Bell, MD and state epidemiologist. “The risk of the hepatitis A virus spreading from an infected employee to customers in a restaurant setting is low. The concern is with a food handler with hepatitis A infection, not the restaurant.” The restaurant received an A rating from DHEC at the last inspection conducted on Jan. 9, 2019. This illness is not a foodborne outbreak.
Post-exposure vaccination 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 of exposure being Jan. 26, 2019. DHEC will offer no-cost hepatitis A vaccine to individuals who may have been exposed as a precaution.
Customers and staff who ate food prepared at the restaurant from Jan. 21 through Jan. 26, 2019 are encouraged to come to the Aiken County Health Department located at 222 Beaufort St. NE in Aiken for post-exposure treatment on the following date and times:
- Monday, February 4th, from 12-6 pm
- Tuesday, February 5th, from 10 am - 7 pm
- Wednesday, February 6th, from 10 am - 6 pm
- Thursday, February 7th, from 10 am - 6 pm
The vaccine is not shown to prevent infection when administered more than 14 days after a specific exposure. However, vaccination more than 14 days after exposure will give long-lasting protection from infection from future exposures.
As of today, customers and staff who ate at the restaurant between January 11 and January 20 are not likely to benefit from post-exposure treatment. Anyone who ate at the restaurant between these dates should watch for symptoms of infection, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain or yellowing of the eyes and skin. People usually become sick within two to six weeks after being exposed to the virus. It is important to seek medical care if symptoms develop.
Certain individuals are at greater risk for severe hepatitis A infection and are encouraged to seek vaccination. Those individuals include anyone with a weakened immune system, liver disease (such as hepatitis B or C) or anyone who abuses injection or non-injection drugs.
If patrons of the restaurant have questions or concerns, please contact DHEC’s Careline at 1-855-4SC-DHEC (1-855-472-3432). Careline staff will be available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. to answer your questions. For more information about hepatitis A, visit CDC’s website.