A Starbucks employee in Blackwood, New Jersey was diagnosed with Hepatitis A and may have exposed customers to the virus after working six days while potentially shedding the virus, according to the Camden County Health Department.
The Camden County Health Department issued a health alert Thursday, November 18, 2021, saying a “food handler” in Gloucester Township tested positive for the virus and “worked through an infectious period.” The health department was notified of the situation by a health provider, and identified the food handler as an employee at Starbucks at 1490 Blackwood Clementon Road.
The Health Department conducted an investigation, which found “no evidence of food safety violations,” the health alert said.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Blackwood, New Jersey Starbucks Was Closed Until All Employees Were Vaccinated & the Department of Health Is Issuing Vaccines
The Department of Health “instantly commissioned” an investigation after receiving notification about the positive Hepatitis A test, they said in their health alert. The investigation did not find any evidence of food safety violations. The store was closed until employees were vaccinated.
The Department of Health advised anyone who patronized the Starbucks on November 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 to get the Hepatitis A vaccine “out of an abundance of caution.” The Camden County Department of Health set up a vaccine clinic at Camden County Sustainable Facility at 508 Lakeland Road.
Trish Hartman of 6 ABC News wrote on Twitter that more than 300 people had already been vaccinated by 5 p.m. the next day.
“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 statement. “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.”
Hepatitis A Symptoms Include Fever, Fatigue, Nausea & Jaundice
Symptoms of Hepatitis A, a contagious liver disease, typically appear within two to four weeks of exposure to the virus, but sometimes may take up to seven weeks to appear, according to the Camden County Department of Health. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice, or yellowing of the skin or eyes, according to the department of health.
“Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter, even in microscopic amounts, from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected person,” the health department said.
Children under 6 often do not exhibit symptoms, the health department said. The disease can be mild to severe, lasting several weeks to several months.
“The Department of Health recommends those who have visited the Starbucks within these dates to have a hepatitis A vaccine and/or immune globulin that can reduce the risk of acquiring the disease,” the health department said. “Individuals should receive the vaccine as soon as possible but no later than 14 days after contact.”