Foodborne Hepatits A Outbreak Reaches 89 in 7 States

By Charles Andrews, Parent Herald September 09, 05:55 am

A recent outbreak of Hepatitis A has now reached to over 7 states with 89 people contracting the disease. Health officials have now linked the foodborne disease to imported frozen strawberries sold in a local smoothie chain.

Confirmed contractions of Hepatitis A in the 7 states include 70 in Virginia, where the outbreak first appeared. Now it has spread to 10 people in Maryland, 5 in West Virginia, 1 in New York, 1 in North Carolina, 1 in Oregon and 1 in Wisconsin. Though no deaths have resulted from the outbreak, 39 have already been hospitalized. As symptoms for Hepatitis A can take up to 50 days to appear, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to identify more cases.

Health authorities including the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration continue the investigation, following the initial outbreak in Virginia. According to a report from the Virginia Department of Health, authorities have now identified a potential link between the Hepatitis A cases and strawberry smoothies sold in a chain of Tropical Smoothie Restaurants across the state. Test results showed that the disease came from a strain of Hepatitis A associated with previous outbreaks due to the consumption of strawberries imported from Egypt. Upon learning of the possible link of the strawberries to the outbreak, the Tropical Smoothie Chain has now removed the strawberries from their inventory on Aug. 8 and has started looking for other fruit sources.

CNN confirms that all of the people who have contracted Hepatitis A have consumed smoothies containing the imported strawberries from Tropical Smoothie Cafes in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia. Others have also confirmed travelling to these locations during vacation.

Contraction of the Hepatitis A virus may cause an acute infection of the liver which is mild and usually resolves on it's own. Symptoms vary between infections, where a person may not show any symptoms. Fever and jaundice are two of the most common signs of Hepatitis A contraction.

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