Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries tops 120 cases
Federal and state health officials investigating the multistate hepatitis A linked to frozen strawberries are now reporting 123 total cases through Friday.
The outbreak cases have been reported from eight states: Arkansas (1), Maryland (12), New York (3), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1), Virginia (98), West Virginia (6), and Wisconsin (1).
Of the total cases, 47 people required hospitalization for their illness. No deaths have been reported.
Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicate frozen strawberries imported from Egypt are the likely source of this outbreak.
In interviews, nearly all ill people interviewed reported drinking smoothies containing strawberries at Tropical Smoothie Café locations prior to August 8 in a limited geographical area, including Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
On August 8, 2016, Tropical Smoothie Café reported that they removed the Egyptian frozen strawberries from their restaurants in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia and switched to another supplier. Out of an abundance of caution, Tropical Smoothie Café has since switched to another supplier for all restaurants nationwide.
Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. The classic symptom of hepatitis A is jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin or the eyes. Other symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light-colored stools. Symptoms develop 15-50 days after exposure to the virus, which can occur through direct contact with another person who has the infection or by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated with the virus.
Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.
It is very important for people who have symptoms of hepatitis A to stay home from work, especially if they work in food service.
Routine vaccination against hepatitis A has reduced the risk of this disease in the past decade. Vaccination is available to anyone, but specifically recommended for all children, for travelers to certain countries, and for people at high risk for infection with the virus. Hepatitis A vaccine is available from health care providers (including some pharmacies and travel clinics) to protect against this disease.