Donut danger: New Jersey health officials urge scores of Dunkin’ customers to get tested for hepatitis A after an employee was diagnosed with the virus
- A Dunkin’ Donuts employee in Turnersville, New Jersey, tested positive for hepatitis A
- Customers may have been exposed between May 18 and June 1
- Officials say infection risk is low but are recommending anyone at-risk receive a post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
- A PEP includes the hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin, which can reduce the risk of contracting the disease
New Jersey health officials are issuing a warning after a Dunkin’ Donuts employee tested positive for hepatitis A.
Customers who ordered coffee or food at the store in Turnersville between May 18 and June 1 may have been exposed to the virus.
While the infection risk is low, consumers are advised to receive a post-exposure prophylaxis, consisting of the hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin, which can reduce the risk of contracting the disease.
According to the Gloucester County Health Department, customers should receive the treatment on or before June 15 for it to be optimally effective.
Customers who ordered food or beverages from a Dunkin’ Donuts in Turnersville, New Jersey, between May 18 and June 1 may have been exposed to hepatitis A after an employee tested positive (file image)
‘While the risk to people who ate or drank beverages at the Turnersville Dunkin’ Donuts…is low, out of an abundance of caution the Gloucester County Health Department is recommending that they receive ‘post-exposure prophylaxis’ (PEP),’ the health department said in a news release on Friday.
Both health officials and Dunkin’ Donuts said the company’s management is cooperating with sanitary procedures and the ongoing investigation.
The franchise’s other employees have received a PEP and have resumed working.
Hepatitis A is a virus that attacks the body and causes liver inflammation.
It is highly contagious and is typically spread through sexual contact, needle sharing, or by consuming food that has been contaminated by someone infected with the virus.
Those who are most at risk of developing hepatitis A include drug users, men who have sex with men and homeless individuals.
Symptoms – which include fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and dark urine – can take anywhere from two to seven weeks after exposure to appear.
Although many who are infected show no symptoms, it can take a few months for the illness to pass.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say the best way to prevent the spread of infection is to practice good personal hygiene, such as washing your hands, and to receive the hepatitis A vaccine, which is given as two shots that are six months apart.
In the US, there are three FDA approved hepatitis A vaccines: Vaqta, Havrix, and Twinrix.
New Jersey officials say that those who don’t have insurance or have insurance that does not cover vaccines can call the Gloucester County Health Department at (856) 218-4101.
In a statement emailed to DailyMail.com, Dunkin’ Donuts said it is taking the matter ‘very seriously’.
‘At Dunkin’, our number one priority is always the health and safety of our customers and franchisees’ employees,’ a spokesperson wrote.
‘We want to assure our customers that we require all of our franchisees’ restaurant managers and shift leaders to be trained and qualified in all aspects of food safety including disinfection procedures and managing reportable illnesses.
Currently, 20 states are reporting active hepatitis A outbreaks, while outbreaks have been resolved in California and Utah, according to the CDC.
Just 13 states require the hepatitis A vaccine before starting kindergarten. New Jersey is not one of those states.