COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Officials from the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) say two more restaurants in the Palmetto state could have exposed their customers to Hepatitis A, as a reported outbreak of the virus continues.
DHEC was notified this week that an employee at each restaurant tested positive for the virus.
Last month, DHEC reported a possible exposure at Wild Wings on Bower Parkway in Columbia, with the two newest exposures reported at the Popeye's on York Street in Aiken and the Harbor Town Yacht Club in Hilton Head.
Hepatitis A is a virus that inflames your liver once you’ve been affected, and it can cause you to experience several weeks of painful flu-like symptoms. With so many outbreaks popping up at restaurants across the state, some folks say they’re becoming wary to eat out.
“That’s actually really scary,” said Doc from No Grease Barbershop in the Vista. “It’s not set to a local area, so you don’t know where you can go safely. It kind of makes you scared to eat out. I rely on this. I’m down here all the time, and knowing I can’t safely eat in restaurants in my area is kind of frustrating.”
From Columbia to Hilton Head, restaurants around the state have possibly exposed customers to Hepatitis A who have eaten at their restaurants.
Doc works at a No Grease barbershop in the Vista and says the growing list of exposed restaurants is concerning.
Hepatitis A is spread when you have person to person contact with someone who already has it by eating or drinking something contaminated by an infected person.
DHEC says symptoms usually develop two to six weeks after being exposed. Those symptoms can include fever, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. One way to help prevent the virus from spreading, washing your hands after using the restroom and before eating or preparing food.
“It makes me want to start doing my food prep more, and start bringing my lunch to work,” Doc said.
DHEC has declared a statewide outbreak because of the increase in the number of these cases, and they say getting the Hepatitis A vaccine is your best form of protection.
If you think you’ve been exposed to Hepatitis A, you’re asked to see your medical provider as soon as possible to get tested.