About Hepatitis Blog
Salt Lake 7-11 Hepatitis A Fear
Likely Linked to broader hepatitis A outbreak in area.
Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) announced today that customers of the 7-Eleven convenience store at 2666 West 7800 South in West Jordan who used the restroom at the store or consumed certain items on specific dates should contact the health department for information about receiving an injection to prevent hepatitis A. This possible exposure affects only this single 7-Eleven location.
The preventive injection recommendation is for customers who visited the store on any date from Tuesday, December 26, through Wednesday, January 3, and who used any restroom in the store or consumed any of the following items:
- Fountain drink or other self-serve beverage
- Fresh fruit
- Any item from the store’s hot food case, such as pizza, hot dogs, chicken wings, or taquitos
Packaged items, including bottled beverages and microwaved foods, are NOT implicated in the possible exposure. Customers who consumed only packaged or bottled items do not need to contact the health department. Customers who are fully vaccinated (two doses) against hepatitis A also do not need to contact the health department.
Customers who used the store restroom or consumed any of the items listed above on any of the dates indicated should call 385-468-INFO (4636) for further instructions. The phone line will be staffed form 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. beginning Monday, January 8. Health department staff will screen callers for their exposure risk and provide them with options for receiving a prophylactic hepatitis A vaccine.
People in need of prophylaxis must receive it within a short time period of their possible exposure, so it is essential that affected customers call the health department as soon as possible. Based on average sales volume for this store, health officials estimate up to 2,000 customers may be affected.
The possible hepatitis A exposure occurred when an infected employee worked while ill and potentially handled certain items in the store. SLCoHD believes this case is linked to the ongoing outbreak Salt Lake County has been experiencing since August 2017. 7-Eleven is cooperating fully with the health department’s investigation and response and, since discovering the possible exposure, has sanitized the affected store according to health department recommendations.
“This is an important reminder to food service establishments that they should consider vaccinating their food-handling employees against hepatitis A,” said Gary Edwards, SLCoHD executive director. “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 important requirements that help protect public health.”
Hepatitis A vaccine is covered by most insurance plans and is widely available at local pharmacies, health care providers and SLCoHD immunization clinics. Call 385-468-SHOT (7468) for an appointment at a health department immunization clinic.
Since January 1, 2017, Utah public health has identified 141 confirmed cases of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection; many among persons who are homeless and/or using illicit drugs. Several cases have been linked by investigation and/or viral sequencing to a national outbreak of hepatitis A involving cases in California and Arizona. Hospitalization rates of less than 40% have been described in previous hepatitis A outbreaks; however, other jurisdictions associated with this outbreak are reporting case hospitalization rates approaching 70%. The high rate of hospitalization may be a result of cases having underlying illnesses (e.g., alcoholism), or a higher rate of hepatitis comorbidities (e.g., hepatitis B or C). In response to the outbreak, public health officials have been working to identify cases and contacts, provide education, and ensure opportunities for vaccination of close contacts to cases and vulnerable populations.
Hepatitis A is usually spread through having oral contact with items contaminated with hepatitis A, for example, through ingesting food or drinks contaminated by infected feces. Some people do not develop symptoms, even if infected. If symptoms occur, they usually appear anywhere from 2-6 weeks after exposure. Symptoms usually develop over a period of several days, and may include jaundice (the yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes), abdominal pain, nausea or diarrhea. Hepatitis A vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis A infection.