If you've recently been to a North Carolina Hardee's fast food restaurant you could be at risk. Health officials are urging patrons to get a hepatitis A vaccination if they've dined there in between June 13 and 23.
"After consulting with the state today, we are recommending a vaccination for exposed employees and patrons who ate at the 2604 Little Rock Road location between June 13 and 23," the Mecklenburg County Health Department's statement read.
.According to Health Director Gibbie Harris, an employee has been diagnosed with hepatitis A, and could have contaminated up to 4,000 people in the 10-day period.
Harris said those who may have been to the Little Rock location should be vaccinated within 14 days of their visit.
WSOC has reported nearly 1,100 people waited in line on June 27 to receive their free vaccination shot, and hope more come to the clinic within the next few days.
According to Harris, there have been 12 cases of hepatitis A this year, with five since June 6.
"Beefing up outreach efforts"
Although county officials won't say how the Hardee's employee became in contact with the disease, they will be keeping records on everyone who has been vaccinated for hepatitis A.
The health department is also "beefing up outreach efforts" to inform the public on the risks of hepatitis A, through social media, paid marketing, and coordinating clinics.
The county's primarily hopes to target high-risk groups, and plans to send their material to community groups, partner organizations and gay bars.
The state of North Carolina will be paying for the vaccinations, which is about $14,000 for 500 doses, as this has been classified as an outbreak.
"I didn't pay any attention to it until they said Hardee's, and I was like, 'Oh goodness,'" Phillip Davidson who was in the line for the shot, said.
"I am a little nervous about it, but I am trying to stay strong," added fellow patron Danielle Hunt.
Although the Little Rock Hardees has been indefinitely shut down, the county said that following an environmental assessment, there was no reason to shut it down.
They posted a sign on the door that reads: "Sorry to have missed you. This Hardee's is closed until further notice, and we hope to open our doors again soon. For more information, please visit www.meckhealth.org."
What is hepatitis A?
While hepatitis A, B, and C all target an individual's liver, a hepatitis A infection will not cause chronic liver disease, and is rarely fatal.
In fact, not only is the disease curable, once an individual is rid of the disease, they will be immune for life. You can quickly find out if you have this condition through a simple blood test.
The incubation period, which is the period between exposure and signs of illness, lasts between 14 to 28 days, with symptoms including fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark-colored urine and jaundice.
Although not everyone will have all of these symptoms, they are more noticeable in adults as opposed to children. There is also a higher rate of fatalities from the disease for an older age group.
If you or anyone you know anyone who has recently been to the Little Rock Hardee's, please share this article!
[H/T: World Health Organization]