GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCBD) – Customers who ate at a Waffle House in Goose Creek may have been exposed to the Hepatitis A, according to the South Carolina Department of Health.
Officials say an employee at the restaurant tested positive Monday, September 16, 2019.
This illness is not a foodborne outbreak. According to DHEC, “The concern is not the restaurant. It is with a food handler who has hepatitis A infection, and they can spread the virus up to two weeks before they know they are sick.”
DHEC says the risk of Hepatitis A spreading from an infected employee to a customer in a restaurant setting is low.
Precautionary vaccination should be considered for individuals who were exposed during the time the food handler was contagious.
If you ate at the restaurant between August 24 and September 13, 2019, you may have been exposed to the illness.
Restaurant patrons who were potentially exposed cam visit the Goose Creek Health Department, 106 Westview Dr., Goose Creek, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 19) and Friday (Sept. 20). No appointment is necessary.
To schedule an appointment for a vaccination at your local health department, call (855)-472-3432 or visit www.scdhec.gov/HealthClinics.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control officially declared a statewide outbreak in May 2019 after a total of 409 cases and 260 hospitalizations from Hepatitis A.
Prior to this outbreak, the average number cases of hepatitis A in South Carolina was 19.
A medical professional, Dr. Edward Galaid, with Roper Saint Francis Healthcare says that most people experience flu-like symptoms after being exposed to Hepatitis A and can recover with in a few weeks.
However, at-risk individuals with a weakened immune system could suffer lasting live damage from the virus. Therefore, he recommends any person exposed to the virus getting a post-exposure vaccination.
“In most people, Hepatitis A is a self-limited illness. You get over it without any treatment. However, in this outbreak, there’s been a substantial number of people who have been hospitalized for Hepatitis A, because of their underlying medical problems and their immune system being impaired,” Dr. Edward Galaid said.
Waffle House Inc. has responded to the incident of Hepatitis A exposure at the Goose Creek location:
“Once alerted about the condition of our employee, we immediately closed the restaurant to clean and sanitize. The health department has determined the restaurant is safe to open, and the restaurant is now open. We will vaccinate our employees at this location and all of our employees in the Charleston area. To our knowledge no customer has contracted the virus from eating at our restaurant, however in an abundance of caution, we have taken these and other steps to ensure our employees and customers are safe,” Pat Warner, Director of PR and External Affairs for Waffle House, said.