Health officials in New Jersey’s Gloucester County are warning Dunkin’ Donuts customers about possible Hepatitis A exposure and urging people to get vaccinated.
A worker at the Dunkin’ Donuts at 460 Hurffville-Crosskeys Rd. in Turnersville tested positive for the communicable liver disease, the Gloucester County Department of Health said Friday, which coincides with National Doughnut Day.
“This individual worked while they were potentially infectious between May 18 through June 1,” the GCDOH said in a news release.
County health officials said the risk to anyone who ate or drank beverages at the store during the contamination period is low, but they are recommending “post-exposure prophylaxis,” or PEP, for unvaccinated people.
“PEP consists of hepatitis A vaccine and/or immune globulin and can further reduce the risk of acquiring hepatitis A,” GCDOH said. “To be effective, PEP should be received as soon as possible, but no later than June 15, 2019.”
Most health care providers can administer PEP, the county said. People without medical insurance can call GCDOH at 856-218-4101.
Management at the Dunkin’ location cooperated with the county investigation and undertook sanitary procedures, GCDOH said. Other employees at the store have received PEP and were able to return to work.
Dunkin' Donuts said it is taking the matter "very seriously."
"At Dunkin’, our No. 1 priority is always the health and safety of our customers and franchisees’ employees," the company said in a prepared statement. "... Upon learning of the diagnosis, our franchisee, who independently owns and operates the location, took immediate, proactive steps to work with the Gloucester County Health Department and to clean and disinfect the restaurant."
“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," the company continued. "Our franchisees are also required to comply with all applicable local, state and federal guidelines and regulations, as well as adhere to our stringent food safety and quality standards.”
Here is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s description of Hep A:
“Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection. Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice, that usually resolve within 2 months of infection; most children less than 6 years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. Antibodies produced in response to hepatitis A infection last for life and protect against reinfection. The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated.”