The new hepatitis A virus has been found at 12 Starbucks locations in California, reports the Los Angeles Times.
First reported in November, the disease affects the liver and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year it leads to between 650 and 750 deaths in the United States. According to the CDC, most people infected with hepatitis A do not get sick and are largely symptom-free for an extended period of time.
People who have not had exposure to the virus are at risk of getting sick, including long-distance travelers, people who serve food to others and anyone who has had unprotected sex with an infected person. People with hepatitis A will often develop flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and dark urine, and red or brown urine, according to the CDC. Others may complain of pain in the mouth, and other symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, dark urine, diarrhea and fatigue.
According to the CDC, individuals who show these symptoms should contact their doctor immediately to see if they have hepatitis A or have contracted the disease from having sexual relations with someone who has the virus. Those who have not been exposed but have contracted the disease may have a normal immune system that makes the disease very difficult to spread to others.
Locations affected by the hepatitis A outbreak include the following locations:
• Conejo Plaza Starbucks, 9018 San Fernando Road, Encino, CA 91312
• Pasadena Starbucks, 153 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
• Golden State Redi-Clinic, 11001 East Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
• La Petite Grocery, 889 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
• Cherry Street Hardware, 5280 Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
• Saugus Drive Starbucks, 9199 Saugus Dr, Saugus, CA 91345
• The Swinging Door, 3730 Oakland Avenue, San Jose, CA 95064
• Mobile Starbucks, 3461 Almaden Blvd, San Jose, CA 95024
• Getty Cafe, 3365 George St, San Jose, CA 95034
• Los Molinos Starbucks, 200 West Almaden Ave, San Jose, CA 95031
• San Jose Starbucks, 2158 Kern Ave, San Jose, CA 95034
The CDC is reminding consumers to be aware of the hepatitis A outbreak and to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. The CDC recommends that people who are in close contact with the virus should wash their hands regularly to kill any virus that may be on their hands. People should use soap and water when washing their hands. Anyone who recently traveled should practice safe practices by avoiding food preparation and exposure to food items on which there may be traces of stool, the CDC said.
Hepatitis A is particularly dangerous in children as adults usually recover from the infection in about two weeks. Children can develop the disease even though they may not have had any exposure because they may share personal items. Individuals with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable to the virus. They may not have the antibodies needed to ward off the infection.
The CDC’s Healthy People 2020 initiative aims to reduce the deaths from hepatitis A and other liver diseases by reducing the number of people who are infected and developing effective treatments for the disease. The agency estimates that hepatitis A and hepatitis B are some of the most underfunded diseases. It estimates that hepatitis A costs the US $2.8 billion in direct medical care and other costs each year.
“The U.S. is experiencing a large, ongoing and unpredictable hepatitis A outbreak that continues to harm many people and to strain important health care services,” Susan White of the CDC said. “There is no cure for hepatitis A but the virus can be treated and control can be achieved through prevention and associated management.”
An advisory that was published by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health states that the LA Department of Public Health is working with Starbucks to investigate and attempt to identify the source of the outbreak. The public health department is advising the public not to consume the product of infected restaurants.