I received this email a few moments ago from one of the 62 ill people who have hired me to represent them in this Hepatitis A outbreak:

Evening Bill,

Thank you for asking and for your concern for Karen. 

Karen is a little forlorn today, as she no longer has a position. Her employer told her that they could only hold her position for one or two weeks after she left the hospital. She has been gone from work for over a month now. It is a small natural health practice and they need to have a lead therapist and person to draw blood (her position). She felt bad but she did not want to make the clients of the clinic not have the services and help they need. She told me she knows she is not ready to go back to work yet and it was unfair to both the clinic and the clients. 

The CDC reports that as of June 18, 2013, there are acute hepatitis A illnesses in 118 people in eight states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington.  Based on completed epidemiologic investigations of 116 cases:

  • 68 (59%) ill people are women
  • Ages range from 2 – 87 years
  • Illness onset dates range from 3/16/2013 – 6/11/2013
  • 54 (47%) ill people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported

Investigation by state and local health departments, FDA, and CDC is ongoing.  Costco notified its members who purchased this product since late February 2013, and has removed the “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” frozen berry and pomegranate mix from its shelves. The product was distributed in 12 states (AZ, AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, and WA); however, no cases from Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, or Montana have been linked to the outbreak at this time.

These numbers will rise.

On June 3, 2013, Townsend Farms, Inc. of Fairview, Oregon voluntarily recalled certain lots of its frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend because it has the potential to be contaminated with hepatitis A virus.  Preliminary laboratory studies of specimens from five states suggest the outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus (HAV) is genotype 1B. This strain is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in North Africa and the Middle East.   This genotype was identified in a 2013 outbreak in Europe linked to frozen berries and another 2012 outbreak in British Columbia related to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt. However, there is no evidence at this time that these outbreaks are related to the current U.S. outbreak.  According to the label, the “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” frozen berry and pomegranate mix associated with illness contained products originating from the U.S., Argentina, Chile, and Turkey.