Thousands of Starbucks customers in New Jersey were possibly exposed to hepatitis A after an employee tested positive and went into work, local official says
Hundreds of people in New Jersey got vaccinated against hepatitis A after a Starbucks employee tested positive for the virus and handled food.
The Starbucks employee tested positive for hepatitis A earlier this month and may have exposed thousands of people to the virus, CNN reported.
Hepatitis A infects the liver and is easily spread through close contact or through consumption of contaminated food and beverages, according to a webpage from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms, which include fever, nausea, and vomiting, can appear two to six weeks after infection and last up to two months, according to the CDC.
Health officials from the Camden County Health Department urged people in a news release to get vaccinated “as soon as possible but no later than 14 days after contact” if they had visited the Starbucks, located at 1490 Blackwood Clementon Road, on November 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, and 13.
Immediately upon hearing the news of the possible exposure, the Camden County Health Department shut down the Starbucks location, CNN reported.
“The county health department has been working closely with the patient and the staff at the Starbucks to address the situation,” Camden County Health Officer Paschal Nwako said in a release. “Our highest priority is ensuring 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 were exposed to get vaccinated against hepatitis A by calling the county health department or your primary care physician.”
Public health employees set up pop-up vaccine clinics near the affected Starbucks location on Friday and Saturday, CNN reported. So far, health officials have distributed 800 vaccines against hepatitis A, the largest vaccine effort in the history of New Jersey, according to CNN.
“Starbucks says that that location is busy, as most are. They’re saying they have an average of 600 patrons a day and some are return patrons maybe going multiple times a day,” county spokesperson Dan Keashen told CNN. “But the exposure is probably in the thousands.”
The employee who tested positive is in recovery, CNN reported. And so far, no one else has tested positive.