New Jersey ShopRite 'food handler' tests positive for hepatitis A, customers warned

Henrietta Strickland
November 8, 2019

The number of confirmed hepatitis A infections has surged to 533 cases, including six deaths, in New Jersey in the last 11 months as health officials issued a new alert that a ShopRite deli worker could have exposed people to the highly-infectious disease over an 18-day span last month.

This is not the first time this year that a food handler in New Jersey has exposed customers to hepatitis A.

According to NJ Heath officials, any items purchased from the in-store deli (Appy) at ShopRite of Somerville from October 13 to 30, should be thrown away.

The Somerset County Department of Health will host a walk-in clinic to provide free hepatitis A vaccinations at the county Human Services Building, which is located at 27 Warren St., Somerville, on November 6th and 7th.

Officials say the Somerville ShopRite was contagious with the virus between October 13 and October 30.

Anyone who ate food purchased in the deli or appetizer departments who have not previously been vaccinated should do so to prevent getting sick.

Immunocompromised (persons with weakened immune systems) should talk with their healthcare provider about getting immunoglobulin or Ig instead of the vaccine.

The best and easiest way to prevent spreading the disease is for people to throughly wash their hands after using the bathroom, Pyrsopoulos said. The hepatitis A vaccine should be received as soon as possible, but no later than November 13, 2019.

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice.

If you have additional concerns about your health, contact your own health care provider for individualized guidance. The outbreak began on December 1 and includes cases in all 21 New Jersey counties.

Hepatitis A is usually spread person-to-person when someone unknowingly eats food, drinks a beverage or places an object in their mouth that has been contaminated with microscopic, trace amounts of the virus. Other potential side effects include mild headache, loss of appetite among children, and feeling exhausted.

A spokesperson for ShopRite says in a statement, "The safety of our customers and associates is our highest priority". As soon as we received notification from the departments of health, we took immediate action to deep clean and sanitize the store, including all knives, cases, and equipment and work surfaces per required food safety protocols.

The Hepatitis A vaccine is available at the ShopRite pharmacy or your health care provider. Right next door is a parking deck offering free parking and remember you don't need any appointment.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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