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Hundreds line up for vaccines after Hepatitis scare at local restaurants

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

Hundreds of people sought vaccinations on Wednesday and Thursday after learning about a possible exposure of Hepatitis at local restaurants in the past month.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department and Public Health Authority of Cabarrus County (Cabarrus Health Alliance) issued a report Tuesday about possible exposure to Hepatitis A.

Thursday, health officials said more than 300 Hepatitis A vaccinations were distributed at the Mecklenburg County Health Department.

"We expect to receive more vaccine on Thursday," health officials said. "Clinic hours tomorrow remain the same at the Billingsley Road location starting at 10 a.m."

People who ate at Hooters on Bruton Smith Blvd. in Concord, N.C. on Feb. 7 or 8, 2013, between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. may have been exposed to hepatitis A.

People who ate or drank at the Whiskey Warehouse, located at 1221 The Plaza in Charlotte on the following three dates: Feb. 6, 2013, between the hours of 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; on Feb. 9, 2013, between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m.; or on Feb. 13, between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., may also have been exposed to hepatitis A.

The UNC vs. Duke game was held on the night of February 13.

"I was there for the Carolina game on the 13th," Whiskey Warehouse patron Frankie Gunnell said. "Along with the a lot of people."

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. People who were at the restaurant during those days are asked to get a shot. Gunnell was the first to get his shot.

"Highly contagious is a scary word," Gunnell said.

The Hepatitis vaccine is very effective in reducing the risk of disease when administered within 14 days of the last day of exposure. Hepatitis A is usually spread by eating or drinking items that have been contaminated with the virus or by close personal contact with an infected person.

"The vaccine needs to be in the person's system for protection," Mecklenburg County Health Director Wynn Mabry said. "14 days is the established rule of the thumb for effective protection."

Those who have had a hepatitis A infection, or one hepatitis A vaccination, are protected from the virus and do not need to take action.

This possible exposure happened when one employee working at both Hooters and Whiskey Warehouse and came to work sick. When the worker got jaundice and went to the hospital, that's when it was discovered Hepatitis A was the reason for the illness.

This is so rare Mecklenburg county didn't have the vaccine and Cabarrus county didn't have enough of it. The state had to ship more vaccine to the health departments.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department, the Public Health Authority of Cabarrus County (Cabarrus Health Alliance), and the North Carolina Division of Public Health are recommending a vaccination or shot for exposed employees and patrons, if the vaccine or shot can be given within 14 days of the last exposure.

WHAT TO DO

Residents of Mecklenburg County:

The Mecklenburg County Health Department at 249 Billingsley Road will offer the following clinic hours for walk-in service:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 20, from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.
  • Friday, Feb. 22 from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Monday Feb. 25 from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday Feb. 26 from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.

No appointment is necessary, but the vaccine must be given within 14 days of exposure. Persons who have been exposed, and/or who have questions, can call 704.336.5398 or 704.336.6436.

Residents of Cabarrus County:

The Public Health Authority of Cabarrus County/Cabarrus Health Alliance will offer the following clinic hours for walk-in service at 300 Mooresville Road in Concord:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 20 from 3 to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Feb. 21, from 3 to 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Feb. 22, from 3 to 7 p.m.

No appointment is necessary. The vaccine must be given within 14 days of exposure. Persons who may have been exposed, and have questions, can call (704) 920-1213.

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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