Hepatitis-A Outbreak Linked to Frozen Berries
The CDC, FDA, and other agencies are investigating a hepatitis outbreak linked to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries, purchased from Costco. So far the illness has affected at least 30 people. No formal recall has been issued yet, but a freezer check may be in order!
According to Food Safety News, the Townsend Farms product linked to the Hep-A outbreak is
…an organic blend of cherries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, raspberries and strawberries. Costco has removed this product from its shelves, but has not yet issued a formal recall. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the product, including testing berries for the Hepatitis A virus, which may take several weeks.
The Costco-sourced frozen berries apparently behind the outbreak have sickened 30 people in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. The outbreak follows European hep-A problems linked to frozen berries, earlier this month, though it’s unclear at this time whether the cases are linked.
Hepatitis A is spread through fecal contamination of food products, and causes symptoms including fever, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dark urine, and jaundice. Symptoms usually appear 2-6 weeks after eating food contaminated by the hepatitis A virus.
There’s a vaccine that can prevent infection, if it’s given within 14 days of exposure; if you’ve eaten these berries within the last two weeks, ask a medical professional if you should receive a hepatitis A vaccine. If you’ve had this vaccine before, you don’t need to repeat it.
More than 14 days from hepatitis A exposure, the vaccine is ineffective; contact your physician if you develop symptoms. People exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A infection should stay home from work, especially those who work in food service, child care, or health care settings.
Image credit: Creative Commons photo by J. Chris Vaughan.