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Publisher’s Platform: Hey Starbucks – Serve your patrons better, vaccinate your employees against hepatitis A


Opinion

The Camden County Health Department in New Jersey has been notified by a health care provider that a food handler employed at a Starbucks at 1490 Blackwood Clementon Road in Gloucester Township tested positive for hepatitis A and worked through the infectious period.

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, the Department of Health was notified that a patient tested positive for hepatitis A and an investigation was instantly commissioned. Members of the Food Surveillance Unit visited the store on Wednesday and conducted an inspection, which showed no evidence of food safety violations. Based on the ongoing investigation the store was closed for operation and was not reopened until all the employees were vaccinated.

“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. “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.”

Based on the investigation and out of an abundance of caution, the Department of Health recommends any member of the public that patronized the Starbucks facility on Nov. 4,5,6, 11, 12 and 13 to get the hepatitis A vaccine.

Based on this exposure, the Department of Health will set up a hepatitis A vaccine clinic to administer shots for patrons starting tomorrow at the Camden County Sustainable Facility at 508 Lakeland Road. Tomorrow’s clinic will operate from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Vaccine appointments will be made on a first come first serve basis.

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. Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A can include the following:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored bowel movement
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

Symptoms of the disease surface two to four weeks after exposure, although they can in some instances occur two to seven weeks after exposure. Children under six years of age with hepatitis A often do not have or show few signs and symptoms.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting 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. Individuals should receive the vaccine as soon as possible but no later than 14 days after contact.

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