The Salt Lake County Health Department is offering free vaccinations to those without insurance, but encouraging insured callers to see their primary care physicians or get their shots at local pharmacies.
As many as 2,000 people in Salt Lake County, Utah are at risk of hepatitis A after visiting a local 7-Eleven store where an employee diagnosed with the virus came to work during their infectious period.
Salt Lake County’s ongoing outbreak is part of a multi-state resurgence of the disease over the course of the last year, affecting primarily California, Kentucky and Michigan, as well as Utah.
The county health department issued a warning on Sunday, urging anyone who had visited the store in West Jordan, just south of the state’s capital, between December 26 2017 and January 3 2018 to get vaccinated.
So far, there have been no confirmed additional cases as a result of exposures in the convenience store, but this is the first time the virus has moved from homeless and drug-using populations into the general public in the state.
An infected employee at a Utah 7-Eleven may have exposed co-workers and thousands of customers to hepatitis A
Outbreaks of hepatitis A began cropping up sporadically throughout the US in March of 2017, spurring the California government to declare a public health emergency.
Until now, Utah’s outbreak had been confined to about 152 cases among the state’s homeless population and illicit drug users.
Just over 70 percent of those had occurred in Salt Lake County, the state’s largest, but the 7-Eleven case is the first known instance of the virus’s communication outside the particularly at-risk groups.
Hepatitis A, a virus that causes liver inflammation, is typically spread through sexual contact, needle sharing, or by consuming food that has been contaminated by infected feces.
The infection can cause abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea and vomiting, but if it goes untreated, prolonged liver inflammation can be deadly.
Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can have both minor and severe symptoms for the person infected.
It is primarily spread when a person who isn’t vaccinated ingests food or water that has been contaminated with feces of an infected individual.
The virus is one of the most frequent causes for foodborne infections.
The incubation period of hepatitis A is normally 14 to 28 days.
People can experience:
Who is at risk?
Anyone who has not been vaccinated or has never been infected with the hepatitis A virus is at risk.
Other factors that increase risk include:
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A.
It may take some people a couple weeks to a couple months to recover from the symptoms.
Doctors recommend everyone to get a vaccination to help prevent the risk of getting infected by the virus.
Source: World of Health
The Salt Lake County Health Department confirmed that a single employee at the affected 7-Eleven had been diagnosed with the disease, and that they had come to work while the disease was live and transmissible in their system.
Hand-washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of the disease, so the employee likely failed to properly clean theirs.
For this reason, those who came in contact with certain areas and products in the store are particularly at risk for contracting the disease.
The health department warned that that fountain drinks and other self-serve beverages, fresh fruit and food from the store’s hot case, like pizza, hot dogs, chicken wings or taquitos were the most likely sites of contamination.
Packaged food or drinks, on the other hand, are not likely to carry the virus.
The Salt Lake County Health Department is taking calls to answer questions about the possible exposure and screen for who is most likely at risk of infection.
So far, press department spokesperson Pam Davenport told Daily Mail Online that the agency has fielded between 600 and 700 calls, and assessed 350 of those callers to be at sufficient risk to need to get the preventative vaccination.
She said that it is too soon yet for many of those who have possibly been exposed to show symptoms, and no diagnoses have been confirmed as a result of the 7-Eleven exposure.
The county has mobile ‘foot clinics’ which Davenport estimates have vaccinated some 5,000 homeless people for free.
But, she said, ‘it is only a matter of time before [Hepatitis A] gets out into the general public.’…..more here