CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A new hepatitis A case involving a worker at a popular SouthPark restaurant was announced by health officials Thursday.
Patrons who ate or drank at the Village Tavern on Congress Street on October 30 are urged to get a vaccination, Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said during a news conference. Officials said the worker, who showed up at the hospital on Wednesday and displayed symptoms of hepatitis A, served food at the restaurant and handled materials behind the bar.
Those getting a vaccination need to do so before next Tuesday for it to be fully effective, Harris said.
“After consulting with the State today, we are recommending a vaccination for all employees and exposed patrons who ate at Village Tavern located at 4201 Congress Street on Tuesday, Oct. 30,” Harris said. “According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the vaccine must be given within 14 days of exposure for it to be effective.”
According to Harris, more than 100 patrons are recommended to get the vaccination.
“Right now, it looks like the 150 people range. In addition, we will be vaccinating all the employees that work at that facility,” said Harris. “Our understanding is that this individual served some food but actually handled food.”
Meanwhile, some of those that ate at Village Tavern on October 30th are rushing to get the vaccination.
“If I can go today, I am going today. I have a 3 year old. Imagine my freak out,” said Kali Ratcliff who works across the street from Village Tavern. “I was freaking out. I felt immediately panicked. I have no idea what to do in this situation.”
Kali had a birthday lunch at Village Tavern on October 30th.
“I am freaking out. She is freaking out,” said Pam Shupe, who ate with Kali. “I will not be eating there again, not right now, not for a little while.”
Those at risk can get the free vaccination at the Mecklenburg County Health Department, at 249 Billingsley Road, at the following times:
- Thursday, Nov. 8, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Friday, Nov. 9, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Saturday, Nov. 10, 9 a.m. – Noon
- Sunday, Nov. 11, 9 a.m. – Noon
- Monday, Nov. 12, 9 a.m. – Noon
- Tuesday, Nov. 13, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
“The vaccination is the only sure way of making sure that they are safe from any potential exposure from that restaurant on that day,” said Harris.
Village Tavern said they have been working with the North Carolina Department of Health since the employee was diagnosed.
“Yesterday, we were notified by the NC Department of Health of this situation and are taking precautionary steps to protect our other employees and our customers,” said Tony Santarelli, President and CEO of The Village Tavern, Inc. “The employee was not aware or showing symptoms the day he reported to work; and we are not aware of anyone getting sick or this employee infecting anyone. That said, food safety and personal hygiene are of the greatest importance in all of our restaurants, so we are proactively taking every step necessary to ensure the wellbeing of our employees and guests.”
Tuesday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the first death related to an ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A. The death happened in October, according to the news release.
Hepatitis A is a contagious and vaccine-preventable liver infection that can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. It is usually transmitted through food or water that has been contaminated with small, undetectable amounts of feces from a contagious person.
“The best way to protect yourself against hepatitis A is through vaccination,” said Dr. Heidi Swygard, viral hepatitis medical director in DHHS’ Division of Public Health. “Good handwashing is also important, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers and before preparing or eating food. Anyone who thinks they may have been infected or exposed should seek medical attention.”
Village Tavern is currently open and conducting business.
No further information on the most recent case was released.