AIKEN, SC (WFXG) - DHEC is warning customers that a City Billiards employee has tested positive for hepatitis A. The agency says customers who ate at the restaurant between Jan. 22 and Feb. 5, 2019 may have been exposed to the virus. This announcement comes just one week after customers at Aiken Brewing Company were reportedly exposed to the virus. As of now, it’s unclear if there’s a connection between the two incidents.
As a result of this 2nd incident, DHEC has declared a hepatitis A outbreak in Aiken County. Ten cases of the virus have been diagnosed since Dec. 1, 2018.
These cases are not a food-related outbreak. DHEC State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell says, “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.”
DHEC has arranged vaccinations for anyone who may have been exposed. Customers and staff who ate food prepared at the restaurant from Jan. 31 - Feb. 5 are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider or come to the Aiken County Health Department at 222 Beaufort St. NE in Aiken for post-exposure treatment on the following date and times:
- Thursday, Feb. 14, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Friday, Feb. 15, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Saturday, Feb. 16, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Customers and staff who ate at the restaurant between Jan. 22 and Jan. 30 are not likely to benefit from post-exposure vaccination. Anyone who ate at the restaurant between these dates should be aware of the symptoms of infection. Testing for hepatitis A is not recommended unless individuals develop symptoms. It is important to seek medical care if symptoms develop.
Hepatitis A is contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. Most people who get hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. People usually become sick within two to six weeks after being exposed to the virus. Symptoms of infection include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain or yellowing of the eyes and skin.