Hepatitis A Outbreak - Lane County Residents Potentially At Risk
June 4, 2013
Risk Linked to Frozen Berry Product
Nearly 40 cases of Hepatitis A cases in western states with onsets since April 29 have been linked to consumption of “Townsend Organic Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” frozen berries, which were sold exclusively at Costco stores. This is a blend of frozen cherries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, raspberries, and strawberries, commonly used to make smoothies, etc. To date, no human cases have been confirmed in Oregon, but counties are getting reports of illness that deserve follow-up.
The Townsend product was blended and packaged in Fairview, Oregon, and sold in 3-lb. bags. Some consumers might open a bag and sample from it over a period of several weeks or more. Recent consumption could be from bags purchased weeks or months previously.
Costco removed this product from their shelves last week and has robo-called all consumers who bought the product “recently”.
The number of cases associated with the outbreak will likely increase because Hepatitis A takes an average of 28 days (range 15–50 days) to become ill after exposure (e.g., eating a contaminated product). Currently, 75 bags (the most of any Oregon county) have been sold in Lane County.
Lane County Public Health is recommending that persons who have consumed these berries within the past 14 days should consult their health care provider.
Hepatitis A is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus (an RNA virus). It is usually spread by the fecal-oral route via ingestion of contaminated food or water but can also be spread through direct contact with an infectious person. The time between infection and the appearance of the symptoms is between two and six weeks with an average incubation period of 28 days.
Early symptoms of hepatitis A infection can be mistaken for influenza, but some sufferers, especially children, exhibit no symptoms at all.
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