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Hundreds get vaccinated after SouthPark area hepatitis A scare

ABCs of hepatitis: What’s the difference between A, B, and C?

Hepatitis is a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver. It comes in many forms, including hepatitis A, B and C. But what do those letter designations mean, and how do they differ from one another?
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Hepatitis is a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver. It comes in many forms, including hepatitis A, B and C. But what do those letter designations mean, and how do they differ from one another?

A recently discovered hepatitis A case at a SouthPark restaurant has spurred more than 300 people to get vaccinations, Mecklenburg County said Thursday.

Health Director Gibbie Harris had urged anyone who ate or drank at the Village Tavern on Oct. 30 to get vaccinated against the virus by early this week. The county staged vaccination clinics for restaurant customers who might have been exposed and others who met criteria that put them at high risk.

As of Wednesday, the county said, 330 people had been vaccinated.

It was not immediately clear how many of them were treated by Tuesday, a significant date because the vaccine must be taken within 14 days of exposure to be effective.

In written responses to questions from the Observer, county officials said people who did not get vaccinated by the deadline should look for signs and symptoms of hepatitis A for 50 days after exposure.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease usually transmitted through eating or drinking food or water contaminated with fecal material. Symptoms can include nausea, fever, yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine, gray feces, joint pain, fatigue, loss of appetite and stomach pain.

County officials are recommending people get vaccinated even if they missed the deadline because that can help prevent the spread of the virus.

“The vaccination may not be effective against this exposure but will provide long-term protection against hepatitis A in the event of another exposure,” the county said.

Proper hand washing and the use of condoms during sex can also protect people, officials said.

The SouthPark scare is the latest incident in a national outbreak that has led to hundreds of hospitalizations and dozens of deaths, including one in North Carolina in October.

Health officials have recorded 24 diagnoses of hepatitis A in Mecklenburg this year, Harris has said. In a typical year, there are four to six cases.

A hepitatis case in June at a Hardee’s restaurant in west Charlotte led more than 2,000 people to get vaccinations, according to a September report by the Observer.

Authorities learned about the SouthPark case when a worker from Village Tavern, located on Congress Street, went to a hospital with symptoms of hepatitis A. As many as 150 customers could have been exposed because the employee served and prepared food, the county said.

No other workers had tested positive for the virus as of Wednesday, the county said. There also have been no reported new cases, the county said.

Fred Clasen-Kelly: 704 358-5027; @fred_ckelly
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