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NJ Shoprite worker infected with Hepatitis A may have exposed shoppers

Posted at 11:23 PM, Nov 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-05 23:23:34-05

SOMERVILLE, N.J. — There has been an increase in Hepatitis A cases in New Jersey this year.

Now comes a warning from state health officials that an employee who handled food at a local ShopRite was infected and may have exposed customers.

New Jersey state and Somerset County health officials say an employee of the deli inside the store on S. Davenport Street was working during his or her infectious period, October 13th to October 30th.

The NJDOH has issued the following guidelines:

  • Any items purchased from the in-store deli/appy department at ShopRite of Somerville from Oct. 13 to 30, 2019, should be thrown away.
  • Individuals who may have eaten items purchased at the in-store deli/appy department from the ShopRite of Somerville from Oct. 13 to 30, 2019, and who were not previously vaccinated against hepatitis A, should get the hepatitis A vaccine to prevent getting sick.
  • To be effective, the hepatitis A vaccine should be received as soon as possible, but no later than two weeks after eating food from this deli. For most people, this date would be Nov. 13, 2019.
  • NOTE: The immunocompromised (persons with weakened immune systems) should talk with their healthcare provider about getting immunoglobulin or Ig instead of the vaccine.
  • Anyone who used the restrooms at the ShopRite of Somerville from Oct. 13 to 30, 2019, should also consider getting vaccinated. The hepatitis A vaccine should be received as soon as possible, but no later than Nov. 13, 2019.

If you believe you were exposed you should also:

  • Monitor your health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice up to 50 days after exposure.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
  • Stay at home and contact your healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.

If you have additional concerns about your health, contact your own health care provider for individualized guidance.

The Garden State has seen an uptick in hepatitis A cases this year. It is preventable by vaccine.

A highly contagious virus that affects the liver, it’s spread through contaminated food or water or contact with an infected individual.

Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, stomach pains, fever and loss of appetite.

In a statement ShopRite says:

"The ShopRite of Somerville was recently notified by the New Jersey State Department of Health (NJDOH) and the Somerset County Health Department that an associate who worked in the deli department tested positive for hepatitis A. At this time, no additional illnesses have been reported and the risk of exposure and infection is low. This is an isolated incident at one store and we are working directly with NJDOH and the Somerset County Health Department to take all necessary actions."

"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. All deli meats, cheeses or sandwiches from the deli department that may have been handled by the associate in question are no longer in the store. We are notifying our associates and customers of the ShopRite of Somerville.
Hepatitis A vaccine may be obtained from your health care provider. If you have no access to a health care provider or insurance, you may call Zufall Health at 908-526-2335 for more care information."

Somerville will be offering free hepatitis A vaccinations at a special walk-in clinic at the county Human Services Building, 27 Warren Street, Somerville, from noon to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6, and Thursday, Nov. 7. Free parking is available in the parking deck next to the building.