Manager at Charlotte pizza restaurant tests positive for Hepatit - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Manager at Charlotte pizza restaurant tests positive for Hepatitis

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Health officials in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties are holding special vaccination clinics Friday afternoon because of a potential health risk in a Charlotte-area restaurant.

A worker at the Papa John's Pizza at 8016-B Cambridge Commons Drive has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A.

During a press conference on Thursday evening, officials said the employee was a manager at the Papa John's restaurant who contracted Hepatitis A while traveling out of the country.

Doctor Marcus Plescia, Mecklenburg County's Health Director, said the worker returned to Charlotte, became ill and was hospitalized. Health officials say the employee last worked on April 7, and was diagnosed with Hepatitis A on either April 7 or 8.

County health officials say they were notified Thursday morning, and started working with State public health officials.

"One receives Hepatitis A by eating or drinking - in this case - by eating or drinking a food product that had been somehow contaminated with Hepatitis A. So somebody who has Hepatitis A handles food – Hepatitis A can get into the food."

Mecklenburg health officials say they're concerned because "It's a pizza place so even more people are getting food there than your average restaurant."

Jeremy Bell is angry. He said he and his family had a pizza night with food from that Papa John's.

"And now I gotta to go to the doctor and take my family to the doctor" said Bell. "And no telling how many other people."

County officials say they don't know exactly how many customers could have been exposed. It's estimated about 2400 orders were handled at that Papa John's during the time the infected worker was there.

"April third. I have the receipt right here" said John Cincioni. "And we ordered a pizza to take home – me and my wife ate the pizza."

Which is why Cincioni said he's worried. He and his wife - who has multiple sclerosis - ate food from this Papa John's during the time health officials say the employee who contracted hepatitis A was working.

"Just nervous a little bit that's all" said Cincioni, of the unknown. "The wondering what could happen – Like I said – my wife has m-s so I'm worried about her."

The Papa John's on Cambridge Commons Drive is located in Mecklenburg County, and is very close to Cabarrus County. Health officials from both counties are asking people who ate food from that Papa John's during the last two weeks to go get free vaccines.

If you ate at the restaurant between March 28 and April 7, officials say you should get a hepatitis vaccination. The vaccine is effective if you were exposed within the last 14 days and could prevent you from getting sick.

The special clinics - with free vaccines -  were scheduled to be open Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

One was held at the Cabarrus County Health Department.

Another clinic was at the Mecklenburg County Health Department on Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte.

A third clinic was set up at Clearcreek Elementary School for children, staff and their families. Officials say the school recently ordered 30 pizzas from the restaurant for a movie night.

Clinics will also be held on Saturday, April 12, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday, April 13, from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. at Central Piedmont Community College Cato Campus at 8120 Grier Road. The clinic will be held in the Cato 2 Building.

Officials say 5,000 more doses of the vaccine were ordered for the weekend clinics, and are expected to arrive early Saturday morning.

The worker "was potentially infectious during the time he was working at Papa John's and that goes back to March 24th" said Dr. Plescia. "The problem is if you got a pizza between March 24th and March 28th - you're outside the 14-day window and the vaccine is not going to help you. We want those people to be alert for symptoms."

Dr Plescia said, "These are gastrointestinal type symptoms. People feel a decrease in appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark colored urine – and the trademark of Hepatitis A is jaundice. And jaundice is the yellowing of skin and yellowing of eyes."

If you ordered from the Papa Johns restaurant from March 24 through April 8 you are asking to call the Health Department at 980-314-0950.

WBTV has learned that health officials currently have about 1,000 vaccines available but hope to get more to have 5,000 available in total.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hepatitis A is a liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus.

"It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months," the organization states. "Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected person."

The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated.

Copyright 2014 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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