A total of 2,000 people in Utah who visit a 7-Eleven store may have been exposed to hepatitis A, according to a recent report. How can?
On Sunday (January 7, 2018), the Salt Lake County Health Department announced that a 7-Eleven employee in the West Joran area of Utah worked on hepatitis A. Therefore, customers from the store are at risk for hepatitis A if they visit the store from December 26 to January 3 and use the restroom there, or eat certain foods or drinks.
These foods and beverages include fast food, fresh fruit or hot food, such as pizza, hot dogs, chicken wings or taquitos, the health department says. Customers are not at risk of hepatitis A if they buy items such as beverage packaging or packaged foods.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by hepatitis A virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA.
In general, people are infected with hepatitis A through the “fecal-oral” route when a small amount of body fluid from a sick person contaminates objects, foods or drinks that are then touched and consumed by others, the CDC says.
People can also contract the disease through close contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone with a virus; or through the distribution of equipment related to drug use (including injectable and non-injected drugs), the CDC says.
Symptoms of hepatitis A infection can range from mild to severe, including fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dark yellow urine, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes), according to the CDC. People usually do not show symptoms until 2-6 weeks after they are infected with the virus, quoted from Live Science.
People with the infection usually get better on their own without specific treatment, but in some cases, the infection can lead to liver failure, especially in older adults or people with other liver diseases, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Case in Utah
In the case of Utah, officials are urging customers at risk for hepatitis A (either because they use a restroom or eating certain foods) to contact the health department for information about receiving the vaccine.
This vaccine can prevent hepatitis A infection, but those who have been exposed to the virus should receive it in a short time after exposure to be effective, according to the Salt Lake County Health Department.
On Monday (January 8), about 250 people in the area had contacted the health department and were told they should get the hepatitis A vaccine because of possible exposure at 7-Eleven, according to Fox 13 news station in Salt Lake City.
The 7-Eleven employee case appears to be part of a larger outbreak of hepatitis A in the Salt Lake County area, which began in August 2017. The 7-Eleven involved in the case has now been sterilized, the health ministry said.