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Officials Direct Hundreds To Hepatitis A Vaccination After Scare At 7-Eleven

Erik Neumann / KUER
Health educators at the Salt Lake County Health Department answered phones on Tuesday after the hepatitis A scare at a West Jordan 7-Eleven.

A hepatitis A scare at a 7-Eleven in West Jordan prompted hundreds of people to call the Salt Lake County Health Department yesterday. Over 300 were advised to get preventative vaccines.

Ashley Brandis is answering phones at the county’s emergency operations center.

"Salt Lake County Health Department," she says. "Did you visit the 7-Eleven store at 2666 West, 7800 South in West Jordan? Okay, what day or days did you visit the store?"

Brandis is fielding calls after a 7-Eleven store employee was found to have hepatitis A and was at risk of infecting customers between December 26 and January 2. 

So far, health officials referred almost 350 people to get vaccinated. If they were exposed to the virus by using the bathroom or buying fountain drinks, fruit or cooked foods they have a two week window for the vaccine to work. Officials don’t know for sure if anyone was infected at the store, since it takes several weeks for symptoms to appear.

The scare is part of a hepatitis A outbreak in the Salt Lake Valley that’s been happening since August. The virus is transmitted from fecal contamination. It’s mostly been limited to people experiencing homelessness or who use intravenous drugs.

Kevin Condra is a spokesman with the county health department. As they try to prevent the disease from spreading, he says, they’re emphasizing the importance of hand washing and cleaning for food sellers and restaurants.

"That’s an ongoing thing but certainly when there’s an outbreak like this you may want to step that up a little bit," Condra says. 

The caller who reached Brandis is in luck.

"The good news is that you were not exposed to hepatitis A since it was not within the exposure time of dates," she tells them. 

Health officials say the 7-Eleven is safe now.

Individuals who visited the West Jordan 7-Eleven and may have been exposed can call the Salt Lake County Health Department at 385-468-INFO. 

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