Nassau County warns of possible Hepatitis A exposure at Long Island 7-Eleven

MERRICK, Long Island (WABC) -- The Nassau County Department of Health is investigating a confirmed case of Hepatitis A virus in a food handler who worked at 7-Eleven on Jerusalem Avenue in Merrick.

Patrons who utilized the toileting facility or consumed foods and drinks prepared on-site between February 1 and March 6 may have been exposed.

In a statement, 7-Eleven said the health and safety of customers is its top priority.

"Per 7-Eleven's policy, the independent franchise owner is sanitizing the store and destroying any contaminated items. We plan to work closely with the Nassau County Health Department to ensure the store and its employees are cleared to return to normal store operations," the company wrote in a statement.

Hepatitis A may be spread by consuming food or drink that has been handled by an infected person. It may also be spread from person to person by placing something into the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of a person with Hepatitis A.

Symptoms may range from mild to severe and include an abrupt onset of fever, fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice. The disease is rarely fatal, and most people recover in a few weeks without any complications.

The symptoms commonly appear within 28 days of exposure, with a range of 15 to 50 days.

There are no special medicines or antibiotics that can be used to treat a person once symptoms appear. Generally, bed rest is all that is needed.

Thorough hand washing after bathroom use, and before, during and after food preparation is the most important means to prevent the spread of this and other intestinal illnesses.

Sharing of food and utensils should be discouraged, especially whenever anyone is ill.

Health officials say anyone who was potentially exposed between February 24 and March 6 should receive a hepatitis A vaccination and/or immune globulin (IG). Those individuals who were potentially exposed between February 1 and February 23rd fall outside this window and should observe for symptoms of Hepatitis A and consult with their health care provider about the potential exposure and the need to vaccinate for future protection.

Those who have been vaccinated with two doses of hepatitis A vaccine or who have had the illness in the past are protected from hepatitis A infections, and there is no need for further action.

WATCH: Nassau County officials discuss possible Hepatitis A exposure

County Executive Laura Curran and Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein announced the availability of free Hepatitis A vaccines and/or immune globulin for those exposed between February 24 and March 6. The vaccines will be available:

Sunday, March 10 from noon to 4 p.m.
Nassau Community College CCB Building
One Education Drive, Garden City, NY 11530
(Directional signs will be posted)

Monday, March 11 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Nassau County Department of Health
200 County Seat Drive
Mineola, NY 11501

A call center has been established for those that require additional information. Those in need may call 516-227-9570.

Additional information on Hepatitis A is available on the New York State Department of Health website.

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