Those who have recently eaten at Teriyaki Japan in North Augusta may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus, according to the S.C Department of Health and Environmental Control.
According to an SCDHEC release, customers who ate at the Edgefield Road restaurant between May 14 and May 28 could have been exposed. Those customers can visit the Aiken County Health Department, located at 222 Beaufort St. N.E. in Aiken from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, May 31 and Monday, June 3.
A post-exposure vaccination is available for individuals if given within two weeks of consuming anything from the restaurant.
Those who ate at the restaurant between May 14 and 15 are not likely to benefit from post-exposure treatment and should watch for symptoms of infection, which include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain or yellowing of the eyes.
The report states DHEC was notified on May 29 that an employee of the restaurant had tested positive for the virus.
"The concern here is not the restaurant. It is with a food handler who has hepatitis A infection," said Dr. Linda Bell, MD and state epidemiologist, in the release. She adds that the risk of the virus spreading from an employee to customers is low.
"As a precaution, in these situations, vaccination should be considered for individuals who were exposed during the time the food handler was contagious," Bell said.
The release states the restaurant received an A rating from DHEC at its last inspection conducted in November 2018.
DHEC declared a statewide hepatitis A outbreak on May 13 based on a steady increase in the number of cases, the report says.
Jason Yang, owner of Teriyaki Japan, said the restaurant hopes to move forward and continue serving the community the best it can.
"We maintain that we own a very clean restaurant, and in all the years that we’ve been open, we have not had any cases of uncleanliness," he said in an email to the North Augusta Star.
"Our restaurants have always maintained an A rating from DHEC following all inspections. This instance was limited to one employee that had the virus," he wrote. "After the incident, all other employees were tested, and none have tested positive for this virus. We would like others to know that it is still safe to eat at our restaurant, and if anyone has any questions or concerns about their health, we encourage them to reach out to the DHEC office."
Yang said the owners appreciate the wave of support they've received from customers.