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New Jersey Starbucks employee tests positive for Hepatitis A, possibly exposing thousands

The Starbucks outlet in Gloucester County, N.J., has been inspected and temporarily shut down

Published: November 22, 2021 2:28pm

Updated: November 22, 2021 3:37pm

A Starbucks employee in New Jersey who is responsible for handling food tested positive for Hepatitis A, creating a fear that "thousands" of people may have been exposed to the extremely contagious liver disease, according to health officials.

The worker was employed by the Starbucks outlet in thee Gloucester Township, where the employee handled food for multiple days this month while contagious. The health department was informed on the infection on Nov. 17 and immediately inspected and closed the store, though there were no food safety violations.

"The county health department has been working closely with the patient and the staff at the Starbucks to address the situation. The patient is not currently working and close contacts have been identified," said Camden County Health Officer Paschal Nwako.

That specific Starbucks location says it averages about 600 patrons a day, including some return patrons. As a result, anyone who visited the location on November 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, or 13 is being urged to get a hepatitis A vaccine "as soon as possible but no later than 14 days after contact," according to the department's release. 

Thus far, the department reports that 17 Starbucks employees and 782 patrons have received the shot. There have yet to be any positive test cases for the highly contagious disease, which is transmitted via close contact with an infected person or through the consumption of contaminated food or beverages. 

Symptoms of Hep A include fatigue, nausea, stomach pain and jaundice and can last for up to two months, though most people do not develop long-lasting cases. It can be spread before individuals are exhibiting symptoms. 

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