Health officials in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties are recommending that customers and employees at two local restaurants and bars get vaccinated after a worker was found to have viral hepatitis A.
The employee, who officials say tested positive for the virus within the past week, was a bartender at the Whiskey Warehouse in Charlottes Plaza Midwood neighborhood and at the Hooters restaurant near Concord Mills mall.
Health officials say customers who were at the restaurants during the times the bartender was working earlier this month might have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.
That includes people who ate or drank at Whiskey Warehouse from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6; 4:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Feb. 9-10; and 7 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 13.
It also includes anyone who ate or drank at the Hooters on Bruton Smith Boulevard from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 7 and 8.
The possible exposure was disclosed Tuesday in a joint announcement by the Mecklenburg County Health Department and Public Health Authority of Cabarrus County.
Officials dont know how many customers might have been exposed to the virus, said Andy Fair, a spokesman for Mecklenburg County. Authorities also have recommended vaccinations for other employees at the businesses.
Its a serious issue, Fair said. We want to make sure we reach the people who need the vaccination the most.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease that can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort and jaundice. The virus can be spread by eating or drinking items that have been contaminated with the virus or by close personal contact with an infected person. Symptoms of hepatitis A appear two to seven weeks after exposure.
Authorities said the hepatitis vaccine is very effective in reducing the risk of disease if it is administered within 14 days of exposure.
The state Division of Public Health as well as the local health departments are recommending a vaccination or shot for customers or restaurant employees who might have been exposed.
People who have already had a hepatitis A infection, or one hepatitis A vaccination, are already protected from the virus and dont need to take further action, authorities said.