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Hernando prom-goers may have been exposed to hepatitis A at Spring Hill country club

Students from two Hernando County high schools may have been exposed to hepatitis A at their proms last month.

A food service worker at Silverthorn Country Club Restaurant may have exposed patrons to the virus from April 12 to April 30, the Florida Department of Health announced Wednesday. Karen Jordan, a spokeswoman for the Hernando County School District, said Thursday that the country club hosted proms for Central High School on April 13 and Springstead High School on April 27.

Principals at both schools sent phone messages to parents Wednesday afternoon, Jordan said. Faculty met Thursday morning about answering questions from students.

Vaccination within two weeks of exposure can fight off the virus, according to a Health Department news release, and the department urged those who ate or drank at the restaurant during the two-week window to get vaccinated immediately. The department's Spring Hill office, 7551 Forest Oaks Blvd., is offering free vaccinations and extended hours, until 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday this week and Monday through Wednesday next week.

People who ate at the restaurant from April 12 through April 16 should watch for symptoms of the virus, according to the Health Department. These include sudden abdominal pain, dark urine, fever, diarrhea, pale stool and jaundice. Those with symptoms should seek medical attention quickly.

Hernando County has seen 39 hepatitis A cases already in 2019, according to the Health Department. The county reported only six cases last year and two in the period from 2014-2016.

Contact Jack Evans at jevans@tampabay.com. Follow @JackHEvans.

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