HEP A: Tracking local cases across Georgia and South Carolina

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

News 12 at 11 o'clock

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- A rise in Hepatitis A cases in Georgia and South Carolina, especially in restaurants, has people in the region thinking twice before they go out to eat.

According to DPH, in the past year, there have been 354 confirmed cases of Hep A in Georgia. 67 of those have been in Richmond County.

South Carolina has not been better. The Palmetto State usually has around 19 cases per year, according to DHEC. Through the first six months of 2019, there have been 142 cases. Roughly a third of them have been in Aiken County, by far the most in the state.

DHEC declared a Hepatits A outbreak in May, a month that had 48 confirmed cases.

A number of those cases have been in restaurants. In February, Aiken Brewing Company and City Billiards in Aiken each had an employee with Hep A. Although DHEC said it wasn't an issue with the restaurant, just the worker, some people would think twice about going there.

"I would probably stay at home...instead of going to some of these restaurants," said one Aiken resident. He used to be a regular at City Billiards, playing pool there on a regular basis.

Others have concerns about going out to eat altogether, not just at those specific restaurants.

"I rarely eat out now due to health concerns," said one woman.

"I think I probably would be a little more nervous about it," said another man. He added that he and his wife mostly go to restaurants in North Augusta, but he says this could happen anywhere.

"It could just be any place that looks, good. It could be any local place that we go to," he said.

I spoke with roughly half a dozen people about the issue, and all but one of them said they have started or would start eating out less because of health concerns.

"I know my kitchen and I sanitize and ensure that my food is clean," said one woman. "I wash my hands and I'm not subjecting myself to potential bacteria."

Both DHEC and DPH recommend getting a Hepatitis A shot if you have not already had one.

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