(CNN) – A Starbucks employee in New Jersey who handled food and then tested positive for hepatitis A may have exposed thousands of customers to the virus.
Exposure to hepatitis A covers anyone who has visited the Starbucks at 1490 Blackwood Clementon Road on November 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13, according to county spokesman Dan Keashen.
On Wednesday, the Camden County Health Department was notified of the incident and immediately closed the Starbucks location in Gloucester Township, Keashen told CNN.
People who frequent Starbucks and are not vaccinated against hepatitis A are advised to receive the vaccine “as soon as possible, but no later than 14 days after contact,” the health department said in a news release Friday.
Hepatitis A vaccines in New Jersey
“The county health department has been working closely with the patient and Starbucks staff to address the situation,” Camden County Health Officer Paschal Nwako said in a news release.
“Our top priority is ensuring that everyone involved remains safe and healthy. The patient is not currently working and close contacts have been identified. We encourage anyone who may believe they have been exposed to get vaccinated against hepatitis A by calling the county health department or their primary care physician. “
Awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus
Public health employees provided 17 hepatitis A vaccines to Starbucks employees on Thursday and set up a nearby pop-up vaccination clinic on Friday and Saturday, Keashen said.
So far, 800 vaccines have been administered, marking the largest hepatitis A vaccination effort in state history, according to Keashen.
“Starbucks says that place is always full, like most,” Keashen said. “They say they have an average of 600 clients a day and some are clients that come back maybe several times a day … but the exposure is probably in the thousands.”
Starbucks visitors ‘should get vaccinated’
The Starbucks employee who contracted the virus is on the mend. So far, no one has tested positive for hepatitis A as a result of exposure, the spokesman said.
“I found out that my daughter and I were possibly exposed to hepatitis A. I was able to get vaccinated today and I feel fine,” Keashen told CNN affiliate WABC.
“If you came into contact with material that came out of the self-service or entered the building itself, you should be vaccinated.”
Due to the limited number of vaccines in the state, gathering the proper number of doses was not an easy task.
“Our public health department employees drove across the state, in some cases hundreds of miles, collecting vaccines across the state,” Keashen explained. “There are not many doses of hepatitis A vaccine available in New Jersey.”
The county has successfully secured 500 doses for another pop-up clinic scheduled for Wednesday as demand for the vaccine continues to rise.
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What is hepatitis A and what are the symptoms
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that can be spread through close contact with an infected person or through consumption of contaminated food or drink, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ).
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort and jaundice and generally appear two to six weeks after infection and last less than two months, according to the CDC.
Hepatitis A rates in the United States have decreased by more than 95% since the vaccine was first available in 1995, according to the CDC. Neighboring Philadelphia declared a public health emergency due to an increase in hepatitis A in 2019 and most of the cases occurred among at-risk populations in Kensington.
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Starbucks employee tested positive for hepatitis A, possibly exposing thousands of customers to the virus – KESQ