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Customers who patronized the Starbucks at 1490 Blackwood Clementon Road in Gloucester Township were warned Thursday after an employee there tested positive for hepatitis A, officials said.
The Camden County Department of Health was notified on Wednesday that the person worked through the infection period of the virus, and immediately began an investigation. Out of an abundance of caution, any member of the public that purchased food or drinks from the coffee shop on Nov. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 or 13 is asked to get the hepatitis A vaccine, according to a statement from Camden County.
The department of health will set up a hepatitis A vaccine clinic to administer shots for patrons starting Friday at the Camden County Sustainable Facility at 508 Lakeland Road, county officials said. Friday’s clinic will operate from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will continue on Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Vaccine appointments will be made on a first come first serve basis.
Individuals should receive the vaccine as soon as possible but no later than 14 days after contact.
Officials visited the store on Wednesday and conducted an inspection, which showed no evidence of food safety violations, the department said. The store was closed 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 in a statement. “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.”
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.
It usually causes only a mild illness that lasts a few weeks, according to the CDC. In severe cases, illness can last longer — upwards of around a few months. In extremely rare cases, the virus can kill. Those with existing liver conditions are particularly at risk. Hepatitis A is “usually a short-term infection and does not become chronic,” the CDC says, whereas hepatitis B and C can remain in the body and cause chronic issues, especially in the liver.
There are vaccines for both Hepatitis A and B, but not C.
It’s typically older children and adults who develop symptoms, which the CDC says “can appear abruptly.”
Symptoms may include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, diarrhea, clay-colored stools, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
For more information on hepatitis A and vaccine availability, patrons of Starbucks can contact the Camden County Health Department at 856-549-0530 or their primary care physician.
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Chris Sheldon may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.