Jamba Juice Customers Exposed to Hepatitis AAug 28, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP Patrons of a Jamba Juice Store in San Jose, California may have been exposed to hepatitis A after one of the store’s employees tested positive for the disease. According to a warning issued last week by the Santa Clara County chief medical officer, about 4,000 customers visited the Jamba Juice store while an employee with an active hepatitis A infection was working there. Today, the medical officer is also warning that attendees of a USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show could also have been exposed to hepatitis A because the Jamba Juice employee had also helped prepare complimentary smoothies that were given out at the show.
Hepatitis A is a rare disease that can cause liver problems. The virus shows up between 15 and 50 days after exposure, and symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, fever and loss of appetite. Hepatitis A can be transferred from person to person if something that has become contaminated with an infected person’s stools makes contact with another person’s mouth. Though most people will recover from hepatitis A, in rare cases it can lead to death. The Santa Clara County medical officer said that while Jamba Juice encourages good hand washing procedures among its employees, the only way people who visited that store can be sure they did not contract hepatitis A is by seeing their doctor. The disease can be prevented by administering a vaccine or immune globulin within 14 days of exposure.
The infected employee worked at the Jamba Juice at 1140 Lincoln Avenue in San Jose, but did not contract hepatitis A there. Health officials said that people who patronized the store between August 1 and 16 may have been exposed to the virus. Jamba Juice estimates that around 4,000 people had visited the store during that time.
Between August 16 and 17, Jamba Juice operated the JumpSport booth at the USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show. Free fruit smoothies distributed by the booth had been prepared by the Lincoln Avenue Jamba Juice, and the ill employee had played a role in making the smoothies. Though the risk of contracting hepatitis A from the free smoothies is low, health authorities are urging anyone who had one to see their healthcare provider.
Jamba Juice, which promotes its fruit smoothies as healthful alternatives to sodas, has waged a full-scale campaign to ease fears that its products might be a danger to customers. Jamba Inc., the company that owns the stores, said that it will reimburse customers for the costs of tests and treatments for hepatitis A. The company also said that the San Jose Jamba Juice store was cleaned and sanitized last week, and all of the store’s fresh produce and opened food packages were discarded. As an added precaution, all the Jamba Juice employees at the store were given time off so that they could be vaccinated against hepatitis A. They will be replaced with substitutes until they receive the vaccines.
Outbreaks of hepatitis A have been linked to popular restaurants in the past. The largest hepatitis A outbreak in US history occurred in Pennsylvania in 2005. More than 500 people contracted hepatitis A, and three died after eating at a Chi-Chi’s Mexican Restaurant. That outbreak was linked to tainted green onions. Generally restaurant-related outbreaks of hepatitis A infect between 25 and 200 people.