The Salt Lake County Health Department has reported that an employee of a 7-Eleven store in West Jordan, Utah, may have exposed as many as 2,000 customers to hepatitis A virus.
Customers with potential exposure include those who visited the store from Dec. 26 to Jan. 3 and used any restroom or consumed a self-serve beverage, fresh fruit or items from the store’s hot case, such as pizza, hot dogs, chicken wings or taquitos. Health officials are urging these customers to call the Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) for information about receiving a prophylactic hepatitis A vaccine. Those who consumed packaged items only, including bottled beverages and microwaved foods, as well as those who are fully vaccinated against hepatitis A, are not required to contact the health department.
The 7-Eleven employee was diagnosed with hepatitis A by a health care provider, who reported the infection to the SLCoHD, a health department representative told Infectious Disease News. Health officials then contacted the employee to search for possible contacts. They used the store’s average sales volume to determine how many customers may be at risk for infection. So far, no cases have been linked to the employee, the representative said.
“This is an important reminder to food service establishments that they should consider vaccinating their food-handling employees against hepatitis A,” Gary Edwards, executive director of SLCoHD, said in a news release. “It’s also important that food handlers be conscientious with hygiene, hand-washing and not working when ill — and that managers be vigilant in enforcing those requirements that help protect public health.”
SLCoHD officials believe the case is linked to the state’s ongoing hepatitis A outbreak. There have been 132 outbreak-associated cases in Utah since last May, according to the state’s health department. Among them, 95 occurred in Salt Lake County, mostly among homeless or illicit drug using populations, the representative said.
Some cases of hepatitis A in Utah are associated with a “national outbreak” affecting Arizona and California, according to the state health department. In October, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. declared a state of emergency over the outbreak in California, which has caused 686 illnesses and 21 deaths in the state since November 2016. – by Stephanie Viguers
Salt Lake County Health Department. Possible Hepatitis A Exposure at West Jordan 7-Eleven Store. http://slco.org/health/media/news/possible-hepatitis-a-exposure-at-west-jordan-7-eleven-store/. Accessed January 8, 2018.
Utah Department of Health. Hepatitis A Outbreak. http://health.utah.gov/epi/diseases/hepatitisA/HAVoutbreak_2017. Accessed January 8, 2018.
Infectious Disease News was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.