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Customers may have been exposed to Hepatitis A at Aiken Brewing Company

February 4, 2019

The Department of Health and Environmental Control announced customers who ate at the Aiken Brewing Company recently may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.

According to a press release sent out Monday, Feb. 4, customers who ate at the restaurant from Jan. 11 — 26 could have potentially contracted the virus.

This possible outbreak stems from an employee at Aiken Brewing Company who tested positive for hepatitis A. DHEC was notified about the employee at the end of January.

“Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus,” said Dr. Linda Bell, MD and state epidemiologist in the press release. “The risk of the hepatitis A virus spreading from an infected employee to customers in a restaurant setting is low. The concern is with a food handler with hepatitis A infection, not the restaurant.”

Hepatitis A is not a foodbourne virus. Symptoms, which generally begin to display around two to six weeks after exposure, include such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain or yellowing of the eyes and skin.

Anyone who has contracted the virus should receive a vaccination, which should be administered within two weeks of exposure. DHEC is offering a no-cost vaccine to anyone who may have been exposed to the virus as a precaution.

Currently, customers who ate at the restaurant between Jan. 11-20 are “not likely” to benefit from the post-exposure vaccine, if they contracted the virus. DHEC advises these customers to monitor their health carefully of symptoms of infection, and to seek medical help immediately if they become sick.

Anyone with a weakened immune system, liver disease, or anyone who abuses injection or non-injection drugs is at greater risk of contracting the virus than others and should be especially careful monitoring their health.

Customers and staff who ate food prepared at the restaurant from Jan. 21-26 should visit the Aiken County Health Department at 222 Beaufort Street NE for post-exposure treatment on the following date and times:

• Monday, Feb. 4, from 12 — 6 p.m.

• Tuesday, Feb. 5, from 10 a.m. — 7 p.m.

• Wednesday, Feb. 6, from 10 a.m. — 6 p.m.

• Thursday, Feb. 7, from 10 a.m. — 6 p.m.

DHEC is working with Aiken Brewing Company in investigating the incident.

Aiken Brewing Company declined to comment for this article.

For additional questions, contact DHEC’s Careline at 1-855-472-3432, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. — 6:00 p.m. For more information about hepatitis A, visit CDC’s website.

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