Starbucks worker in New Jersey contracts hepatitis A

FILE- Hepatitis B virus. 

A Starbucks employee in South Jersey has tested positive for hepatitis A, according to the health department.

The Camden County Health Department was notified on Wednesday, Nov. 17 by a health care provider that a food handler at a Starbucks on Clementon Road in Gloucester Township had tested positive and worked through the infectious period.

Officials say thousands of people may have been impacted. Members of the Food Surveillance Unit visited the store and conducted an inspection, which showed no evidence of food safety violations.

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."

Anyone who visited the Starbucks store on Nov. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, or 13, 2021 should get the hepatitis A vaccine.

The health department was hosting a hepatitis A vaccine clinic at the Camden County Sustainable Facility on Friday and Saturday.  They said that vaccine appointments were 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.