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Spartanburg County Hepatitis A Investigation

Customers and staff of two Hardee's restaurants in Spartanburg County might have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus. One location is at 12209 Greenville Highway in Lyman, S.C. and involves the dates between August 31 and September 15, 2015. The second location is at 1397 E. Main St. in Duncan, S.C. and involves the dates between September 1 and September 13, 2015.  The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is working with these Hardee's Restaurants to investigate possible exposures and arrange preventive treatment for anyone who may be affected.

Latest Updates

April 8, 2016

Oct. 22, 2015

Sept. 28, 2015

Sept. 25, 2015

Sept. 24, 2015

Sept. 23, 2015

Sept. 22, 2015

Sept. 21, 2015

Sept. 19, 2015

Sept. 18, 2015

If you have a question or concern about possible exposure, please call DHEC at 1-800-868-0404. Operators are available Saturday and Sunday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6 p.m., and next Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

What are the symptoms?

People infected with hepatitis A may have no symptoms or they may experience a range of symptoms such as: nausea, fever, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, dark urine, and loss of appetite. If symptoms occur, they usually appear anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after exposure and typically last less than 2 months. Some people can be ill for as long as 6 months. 

How is hepatitis A spread?

Hepatitis A is usually spread when the hepatitis A virus is taken in by mouth from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces (or stool) of an infected person. A person can get hepatitis A when an infected person does not wash his or her hands properly after going to the bathroom and touches other objects or food. Also, parents or caregivers who do not properly wash their hands after changing diapers or cleaning up the stool of an infected person can spread the disease. Sexual contact with an infected person can spread hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A is common in many countries where there are poor sanitary conditions or poor personal hygiene. The food and drinks most likely to be contaminated are fruits, vegetables, shellfish, ice, and water. Both frozen and undercooked foods are often contaminated with hepatitis A in these areas.

Who is at risk?

Although anyone can get hepatitis A, certain groups of people are at higher risk. These groups include persons who travel to or live in countries where hepatitis A is common and persons who have close contact with someone who is infected with hepatitis A (i.e. household and sexual contacts).

How is it treated?

There are no special treatments for hepatitis A. Most people with hepatitis A will feel sick for a few months before they begin to feel better. A few people will need to be hospitalized. During this time, doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids. People with hepatitis A should check with a health professional before taking any prescription pills, supplements, or over-the-counter medications, which can potentially damage the liver. Alcohol should be avoided.

How can hepatitis A be prevented?

The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children, travelers to certain countries, and people at high risk for infection with the virus.

Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. If you travel to a country where hepatitis A is common, use bottled water and avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish that may have come from a contaminated water source.

What should I do if I think I have been exposed to hepatitis A?

If you think you have been exposed to hepatitis A, see a health care provider right away. Your health care provider may recommend that you receive an injection of hepatitis A vaccine and/or immune globulin as post-exposure treatment. This post-exposure treatment should be given within two weeks of being exposed to hepatitis A.

Individuals who have had hepatitis A infection, or who have received one dose of hepatitis A vaccine, are protected from the virus and are not recommended for post-exposure treatment.

Individuals who are not previously vaccinated and for whom post-exposure treatment is recommended should receive either:

  • Hepatitis A vaccine, if 12 months through 40 years of age; or
  • Hepatitis A immune globulin (IG), if chronically ill or over 40 years of age. The hepatitis A vaccine can also be given to persons over 40 years of age if IG is not available.

What should I do if it has been more than 2 weeks since I was exposed to hepatitis A?

If it has been more than 2 weeks (14 days) since you were potentially exposed to hepatitis A, you should monitor for signs and symptoms of hepatitis A (nausea, fever, yellowing of the skin or eyes, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, stomach pain, dark urine, and loss of appetite). If symptoms develop, seek medical care and tell the medical professional that you may have been exposed to hepatitis A.

If you choose to get vaccinated or receive IG after 2 weeks have passed since your exposure, it is important to understand that this may not prevent you from developing illness.

Hepatitis A Statistics

In South Carolina we had 14 hepatitis A cases in 2013 and 7 in 2014. Since the hepatitis A vaccine became available in 1995, hepatitis A rates in the United States have declined by 95%. In 2013, 1,781 acute symptomatic cases of hepatitis A infections were reported in the United States.

Should I be vaccinated if I live with someone who was exposed?

Preventive treatment should be given, as recommended, only for those who ate at one of the restaurants. No special precautions are needed for family and friends of those who were recommended to receive vaccine.

Do I need only one dose?

A single dose of hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for preventive treatment for individuals following a known hepatitis A exposure, such as the exposures that affect customers and employees of the two Upstate Hardee's restaurants. If the vaccine is administered within two weeks of exposure, it protects against infection from the known exposure and also provides long-term protection for about 95% of people who are vaccinated.

The hepatitis A vaccine in the routine, two-dose series is recommended only for:

  • all children in the United States at 12 through 23 months of age
  • people traveling internationally to high-risk areas
  • people with certain high-risk behaviors or certain medical conditions, especially those with chronic liver diseases.