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Thousands of customers who used toilets or bought food at 7-Eleven at risk of getting hepatitis A

By Tanya Clark 12:35 PM January 10, 2018
7-Eleven store location (illustration)

People who bought food or used toilets at a 7-Eleven are freaking out after the government warned that they might have been exposed to hepatitis A.

The Salt Lake County Health Department in Utah announced that customers of the 7-Eleven convenience store located 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 fountain drink or other self-serve beverage, fresh fruit, or any item from the store’s hot food case, such as pizza, hot dogs, chicken wings, or taquitos.

Customers who purchased packaged items, including bottled beverages and microwaved foods, should not be concerned and do not need to get the vaccine.

Customers who are fully vaccinated 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 from 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 they 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.

Health officials believe this case is linked to the ongoing outbreak in Salt Lake County.

7-Eleven is cooperating fully with the health department’s investigation.

Since discovering the possible exposure, the store has sanitized the affected area 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, the executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department.

“It’s also important that food handlers be conscientious with hygiene such as hand washing and not working when ill. Managers should be vigilant in enforcing those important requirements that help protect public health,” Edwards added.

Hepatitis A vaccine is covered by most insurance plans and is widely available at pharmacies, health care providers, and health department immunization clinics.

So far, 256 7-Eleven customers have received the hepatitis A vaccine.