7-Eleven customers possibly exposed to hepatitis A in Utah

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Thousands of customers who frequent a 7-Eleven location in West Jordan, Utah, are being warned by health officials about a possible hepatitis A exposure at the store.

On Jan. 3, the health department was notified the employee had been diagnosed with hepatitis A, Rupp said, and interviewed the store worker the next day.

Health officials say hepatitis A has an incubation period of 2-7 week, so we will not know if anyone was infected for several weeks.

Health officials also ask customers who consumed fresh fruit from the store, fountain drinks or other self-serve beverages and any item from the hot food case - such as pizza, hot dogs, chicken wings or taquitos - to contact the health department immediatly.

Almost 500 people called on Monday alone, keeping nine employees busy fielding inquiries throughout the day, county health department spokesman Nicholas Rupp said.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus and is most frequently transmitted by eating food or drinking water handled by someone who has not properly washed their hands.

Rupp said health officials believe the 7-Eleven employee had contact with the homeless population, acquired hepatitis A, and showed up sick to work - with a job that includes handling food - several days between December 26 and January 3.

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The store has since been sanitized, the health department said, and 7-Eleven is cooperating with a health department investigation.

Symptoms - which include nausea, vomiting, fever and fatigue - can take 15 to 50 days to appear.

West Jordan is a suburb of Salt Lake City.

The possible exposure would have occurred at the 7-Eleven located at 2666 W. 7800 South in West Jordan, the Salt Lake County Health Department said in an email.

At the Salt Lake County immunization clinic 129 people were given the vaccine.

In November, the CDC told CNN the country is experiencing a national shortage of the vaccine necessary to fight outbreaks of the disease across the country. Any customer who used the store's restroom could also be at risk for exposure.

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