Sea Pines venue guests could have been exposed to hepatitis A, health officials say

Diners at Harbour Town Yacht Club, located in Sea Pines, could have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus in the past month, a S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control news release says.

DHEC was notified June 17 about an employee at the event venue who tested positive for the virus, a release says. Hepatitis A is a contagious liver virus.

“This is not a foodborne outbreak,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said in the release. “The concern is with the food handlers who are infected and not with the yacht club.”

The employee worked at a social on June 8, a dinner on June 13 and a wedding party on June 14, the release says.

Bell said risk of exposure is low, but people who ate food at these events should consider a post-exposure vaccination.

Post-exposure vaccinations can be given within two weeks from the date of eating at events where exposure was possible.

  • The June 8 event attendees have until June 22.
  • The June 13 event attendees have until June 27.
  • The June 14 attendees have until June 28.

Most people who get hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks but recover without lasting damage, the release says. People with weakened immune systems, liver disease or anyone who abuses injection or non-injection drugs are at greater risk of more severe illness, the release says.

The release notes that Harbour Town Yacht Club received an A rating from DHEC during its last inspection on March 8.

“The real concern in South Carolina is the spread of hepatitis A among high-risk groups and people who live with and have close contact to a person with hepatitis A,” Bell said. “DHEC has been working to vaccinate and educate people in high-risk groups to prevent a widespread outbreak.”

DHEC also was notified of possible hepatitis A exposure at Popeyes in Aiken. An employee of the restaurant recently tested positive, the release says.

Customers who ate at the restaurant between May 29 and June 12 could have been exposed.

DHEC has seen an increase of hepatitis A cases this year and declared a statewide outbreak on May 13. There were 147 cases reported to the department between Nov. 1 and June 14.

If patrons of the club or restaurant have questions, they may contact DHEC at 1-855-472-3432. Staff is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.