7-Eleven Crisis

A Utah convenience station is spreading hepatitis

Emily Schoen, Editor-in-Chief

As of January 8, county health departments in Salt Lake City, Utah have referred 256 patients to get a preventative hepatitis A injection after a possible exposure at a 7-Eleven convenience store.

According to the World Health Organization, WOW, hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus and is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food or water or through direct contact with an infectious person. Almost everyone recovers fully from Hepatitis A with a lifelong immunity. However, a very small proportion of people infected with Hepatitis A could die from fulminant hepatitis.

There have been 133 confirmed cases since January 1, 2017 and an employee at the 7-Eleven May have transmitted Hepatitis A to approximately 2000 customers, who have visited the store between December 26, 2017 and January 3, 2018.

Health officials in the county are warning citizens that they could be at risk of exposure if they consumed certain food items, such as a self-serve beverage, fresh fruit or anything from the hot food case or used the restroom at the West Jordan location. This outbreak is believed to be the latest incident in an outbreak that has been occurring since August.

“The possible Hepatitis A exposure occurred when an infected employee worked while ill and potentially handled certain items in the store,” Salt Lake County Health Department told CNN.

An outbreak such as this one is highly preventable by an employee with the proper disinfectant procedures such as washing hands thoroughly after using the restroom and when contact is made with an infected person’s blood, stools or other bodily fluids.

“This is an important reminder to food service establishments that they should consider vaccinating their food handling employees against Hepatitis A,” said Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Gary Edwards.

The Center for Disease Control, CDC, cautions that symptoms for Hepatitis A include nausea, vomiting, fever and fatigue and can take anywhere from 15 to 50 days to appear.