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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Cyclospora and Hepatitis A Outbreaks Update – Busy Summer

The CDC reports that as of July 24, 2013, 285 cases of Cyclospora infections have been confirmed from 11 states. The number of cases identified in each state is as follows: Iowa (138)†, Nebraska (70)†, Texas (66)†, Wisconsin (3), Georgia (2), Connecticut (1), Illinois (1)‡, Kansas (1)‡, Minnesota (1), New Jersey (1), and Ohio (1).

Most of the illness onset dates have ranged from mid-June through early July.

At least 18 persons reportedly have been hospitalized in three states.

No food items have been implicated to date, but public health authorities are pursuing all leads. Previous outbreak investigations have implicated various types of fresh produce.

It is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak.

No common events (e.g., social gatherings) have been identified among the case patients.

Additional cases are currently under investigation and will be included on this page as states confirm them.

The CDC reports that as of July 24, 2013, 153 people have been confirmed to have become ill from hepatitis A after eating “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” in 9 states:  Arizona (22), California (75), Colorado (27), Hawaii (8), New Hampshire (1), New Mexico (9), Nevada (6), Utah (3), and Wisconsin (2).

Illness onset dates range from 3/31/2013 – 7/9/2013.

66 (44%) ill people (all over 18 years of age) have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

The major outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus, belonging to genotype 1B, was found in clinical specimens of 89 people in eight states: AZ (11), CA (34), CO (23), HI (7), NH (1 – travel to Nevada), NM (6), NV (6) and WI (2 – the person was exposed in California). This genotype is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in North Africa and the Middle East.

By combining information gained from FDA’s traceback and traceforward investigations and the CDC’s epidemiological investigation, FDA and CDC have determined that the most likely vehicle for the hepatitis A virus appears to be a common shipment of pomegranate seeds from a company in Turkey, Goknur Foodstuffs Import Export Trading.  These pomegranate seeds were used by Townsend Farms to make the Townsend Farms and Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blends and by Scenic Fruit Company to make the Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels.