CHARLOTTE, N.C -- Health officials in Mecklenburg County are urging those who ate at the Hardee's on Little Rock Road in west Charlotte to receive a hepatitis A vaccination as soon as possible.
They said a worker at the restaurant has been diagnosed with hepatitis A and may have exposed thousands of customers to the illness.
According to WSOC, the health director said people who ate at Hardee's between June 13 and 23 must be vaccinated within 14 days of coming into contact with hepatitis A.
Officials said as many as 4,000 people ate at the restaurant over that 10-day period.
Officials said the employee who tested positive for hepatitis A handled food and that's why others may have been exposed.
The Health Department found out Monday that the employee was diagnosed with the liver disease but waited until Tuesday to notify the public.
"We really didn't have all the information yesterday and had we talked to the state yesterday it really wouldn't have changed our time frame," said Health Director Gibbie Harris.
Hepatitis A is one of the mildest forms of hepatitis, causing flu-like symptoms and in some cases, jaundice.
It's generally transmitted when people don't wash their hands after using the bathroom.
The Hardee's restaurant voluntarily closed Tuesday afternoon.
A statement from a company spokesperson reads:
"We can confirm that an employee at a franchise-owned Hardee's restaurant at 2604 Little Rock Road in Charlotte, North Carolina was recently diagnosed with Hepatitis A. Once CKE became aware, we immediately followed up with Mecklenburg County Public Health, which conducted an inspection on Monday, June 25. Although the health department determined a mandatory closure was unnecessary, out of an abundance of caution for our employees, guests and community, we supported the franchise owner's voluntarily closure of the restaurant on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 26.
The franchise owner is working closely with the health department and is following all recommendations to ensure the health of our employees and customers. Based on guidance from the health department, we urge any guests who visited our Hardee's restaurant at 2604 Little Rock Road between June 13 - 26 to get vaccinated. More information can be found at www.meckhealth.org."