AP NEWS

Hundreds line up for vaccines after possible hepatitis A exposure at Charlotte Hardee’s

June 28, 2018 GMT

Hundreds of people waited in line to get a hepatitis vaccine in Charlotte on Wednesday after eating at a Hardee’s restaurant where an infected person works.

The group represented just a fraction of the people who may have been exposed to the disease by just entering the restaurant.

Phillip Davidson is one of hundreds who showed up Wednesday after hearing the news.

“I didn’t pay any attention to it until it showed the Hardee’s and I said, ‘Oh goodness,’” he said.

Davidson said a co-worker brought biscuits from the Hardee’s on Little Rock Road in West Charlotte to his job two weeks ago. Another man waiting in line said he ate two jumbo hot dogs at the Hardee’s on Saturday.

“Made me think about a lot of places you eat out at,” the man said.

Mecklenburg County health officials have been dealing with a hepatitis A outbreak, with 12 cases reported since the year began. That number is more than double the number of cases reported in 2017.

Health officials said one victim worked at the Hardee’s and was contagious as early as June 13.

“His symptoms became severe enough on the 23rd that he did not go back to work, he went to the doctor,” said Gibbie Harris with the Mecklenburg County Health Department.

Health officials moved to get the word out to more than 4,000 customers who had eaten at the restaurant during that timeframe and hundreds responded, waiting outside a West Charlotte Health Department for a free vaccination.

Mark Fritze works at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport and ate at the Hardee’s two weeks ago.

“There’s enough problems out here. I don’t need anymore,” he said.

Some are concerned about potentially hundreds of others who may have been exposed to hepatitis A and then traveled through the airport, back to their homes.

“At this point, all we know is that if they ate there, there was the potential for exposure,” Harris said.

Health officials had vaccinated about 900 people as of Wednesday evening.

People exposed to hepatitis A must be vaccinated within 14 days of exposure for the inoculation to work.

Unlike hepatitis B and hepatitis C, hepatitis A is not chronic and most people make a full recovery with no lasting damage.