Today a class action lawsuit was filed in Cumberland County on behalf of those individuals who were required to receive a Hepatitis A after potentially being exposed to the virus while dining at a Fayetteville, North Carolina Olive Garden restaurant.

The Hepatitis A scare began when Cumberland County Health Department officials announced that anyone who visited the Fayetteville Olive Garden Restaurant at 234 N. McPherson Church Road anytime on July 25, 26, 28, 29, 31 and August 1, 2 and 8 may have been exposed through an employee who tested positive for the disease.

The North Carolina state epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies explained that if the vaccine or injection of Hepatitis A immune globulin is administered within 2 weeks of exposure, it will be effective in preventing infection. “We encourage anyone who ate at the restaurant on any of the dates mentioned to contact their own health care provider or their local health department about vaccination. Individuals current on hepatitis A vaccine are considered protected from this virus,” Davies said in a press release.

According to a report by Sonia Whalen-Miller of The Daily Courier, a 40 year old woman who was visiting family in Cumberland County had dined at the Fayetteville Olive Garden. She only found out about the Hepatitis A scare after her nephew informed her of the health department’s announcement. She immediately contacted her health department in Fayette County where she was able to receive the vaccine.

However, as the woman explains, this was nonetheless an upsetting experience. Whalen-Miller reports:

For the local woman, this experience has been frightening and has caused her to think differently about the food she ingests.

The woman said she is disappointed a warning was not issued across the country so that people who may have been on vacation there could have learned about the incident.

“I’ve been told that 800-1000 people eat at that particular Olive Garden restaurant each day. What about the people who may have stopped to eat there while driving south or to the beach on vacation? Given it’s a main highway to the south, I think about other residents who might have stopped to eat there. Not everyone has a family member in the state of North Carolina that can call and tell them like I did,” she said.

The Cumberland County free clinic will continue to administer immune globulin injections until August 22, 2011 to accommodate those patrons who dined at Olive Garden during the possible exposure dates in August.