According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries purchased from Costco appear to be the source of a five state Hepatitis A outbreak. Approximately 30 cases of hepatitis A have been reported from Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California. The first people became ill on April 29 and the most recent on May 21.
The product 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 Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection if given within 14 days of exposure. Some people should receive immune globulin instead of the Hepatitis A vaccine. If you ate these berries within the past 14 days please discuss with your doctor whether you should receive the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin. If you have received hepatitis A vaccine in the past, you do not need to be revaccinated.
Early signs of Hepatitis A appear two to six weeks after exposure. Symptoms commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, dark urine and jaundice (yellow eyes or skin). It is very important if you have these symptoms that you do not go to work, especially if you work in food service, health care or child care.
The disease varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting four to six weeks or longer. Hepatitis A infection can be severe and can result in hospitalization.
Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice and may have an illness so mild it can go unnoticed. However, even mildly ill people can be highly infectious. People with symptoms suggestive of hepatitis should consult a physician immediately, even if symptoms are mild.
Hepatitis A virus is spread as a result of fecal contamination (fecal-oral route) and may be spread from person to person through close contact or through food handling. Contaminated food or beverages commonly spread the virus. People are at increased risk of acquiring hepatitis A when they have been in close contact with an infected person.
Hepatitis A can cause severe disease.
Tip of the pen to Lynne Terry.