The Virginia Department of Health says testing indicates frozen strawberries from Egypt used at the smoothie chain may be to blame for the illnesses.
The 17 hepatitis cases are from across Virginia: five in the eastern region (which includes Hampton Roads), four in the northern region, four in the northwestern region, and four in the central region.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe says it stopped using the strawberries from Egypt at all of its stores, including those outside Virginia, after learning about the potential issue. The smoothie chain says the cafes and their food handling practices “have not been implicated in any way.”
Health officials are encouraging anyone who consumed a smoothie with frozen strawberries at a restaurant in the last 50 days to watch for symptoms of hepatitis A. Those include jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and nausea.