Starbucks customers possibly exposed to hepatitis A at New Jersey store

Nation/world

A Starbucks was shut down in New Jersey last week after an employee with hepatitis A worked at the location while infectious, possibly exposing customers to the potentially serious disease, health officials say.

The impacted store is located at 1490 Blackwood Clementon Road in Gloucester Township, according to the Camden County Health Department.

Health officials began investigating last Wednesday after being notified that a Starbucks employee tested positive for hepatitis A.

An inspection turned up no indicators of any food safety violations, but nevertheless, the store has been closed indefinitely until all employees get vaccinated against the disease, according to officials.

“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 news release. “Our highest priority is ensuring everyone involved remains safe and healthy. The patient is not currently working, and close contacts have been identified.”

Thousands of people were possibly exposed to the virus over a period of six business days, television station WPIX in New York reports.

Health officials urge anyone who visited the Gloucester Township location on Nov. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 or 13 to get a hepatitis A vaccination as a precautionary measure as soon as possible, but no later than two weeks after a potential exposure.

More than 800 people received the jab at vaccination clinics held on Friday and Saturday, according to the county. Another one is scheduled for this Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Camden County Health Hub, which is at at 200 College Dr. in Blackwood.

Individuals can also contact their primary care physician to see if they have the vaccine.

Those who were previously vaccinated against hepatitis A do not need to get another dose, according to the Health Department. Anyone born after the year 2000 likely already received the shot, but parents are encouraged to double check with their child’s pediatrician.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease typically spread through an infected person’s fecal matter that came into contact with and contaminated objects, food or beverages. It can result in illness that is mild and lasts a few weeks, to severe which can take months to recover from, health officials say.

Signs of an infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, stomach ache, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movement, jaundice and joint pain.

Symptoms generally show up approximately two to four weeks after exposure, but can sometimes take up to seven weeks, according to the Health Department.

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