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Starbucks Worker Tests Positive for Hepatitis

Customers at a New Jersey location should get vaccinated, health officials say
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2021 10:10 AM CST
Starbucks Store Shut After Hepatitis Test
Michael Hewitt receives a hepatitis shot in a shelter at First Baptist Church in August in Waverly, Tenn., after flooding.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(Newser) – An employee at a New Jersey Starbucks kept working after testing positive for hepatitis A, health officials say—and even handled food. Thousands of people could be at risk, and Camden County officials advise customers to get vaccinated within 14 days of their visit, CNN reports. The Blackwood Clementon Road store will remain closed until all employees have received the shot, per NJ.com; 17 were vaccinated Thursday. The infection has sparked the largest hepatitis A vaccine campaign drive in New Jersey history, officials said, with 800 doses administered.

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The Gloucester Township store averages 600 customers a day, some of who come more than once. "The exposure is probably in the thousands," a county spokesman said. Health officials, who say the employee worked throughout the infection period, are conducting an investigation. An inspection found no violations, they said. Among the people who got the shot after possible exposure were the county spokesman, Dan Keashen, and his daughter. "If you came in contact with material that came out of the drive-thru or you went inside of the building itself, you should absolutely get vaccinated," he said.

The county didn't have enough doses, Keashen said, and had to send "public health department employees driving all over the state, in some cases hundreds of miles, picking up vaccines." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes hepatitis A as a highly contagious infection of the liver that can spread through close contact with an infected person, or through consuming food or drink that have been contaminated. It's often weeks before symptoms appear. (Read more hepatitis A stories.)

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