Health Care

Utah 7-Eleven Spreads Hepatitis A Through Sodas, Hot Foods and Bathroom

Utah 7-Eleven Spreads Hepatitis A Through Sodas, Hot Foods and Bathroom

Health officials estimate 2,000 customers may be affected, based on the average sales volume of the 7-Eleven, 2666 W. 7800 South.

A 7-Eleven convenience store in Salt Lake County, Utah, might be to blame for infecting as many as 2,000 people, according to a statement from the Salt Lake County Health Department. Of particular risk are customers who used the store's restroom or consumed some of the items for sale, including the fountain drink or other self-service beverages, fresh fruit, and any item from the hot food case that includes hot dogs, pizza, taquitos, and chicken wings.

The press release states that packaged items, including bottled beverages and microwaved food, are not to be included in the possible exposure. People who believe they may have been exposed are being urged to call the health department for guidance on how to get a hepatitis A vaccine.

An employee was infected with hepatitis A continued to work while sick, and handled food at the store. Public health officials think that this case is linked to the ongoing outbreak Salt Lake County has been experiencing since August 2017.

7-Eleven didn't respond to a request from CSD for a comment on the situation, or the course of action the company is now pursuing.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HAV is generally transmitted via person to person through consuming contaminated foods, drinking contaminated water, or via feces.

"This is an important reminder to food service establishments that they should consider vaccinating their food-handling employees against hepatitis A", Edwards said in a health department statement.

Edwards added, "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". Health department staff will screen callers and give them options for getting the vaccination.

The store has been sanitized according to health department recommendations and is cooperating with officials. Over 300 were advised to get preventative vaccines.

Hepatitis A can cause mild-to-severe illness lasting weeks to months. But in rare cases it can cause liver failure.