The Centers for Disease Control is collaborating with public health agencies in several states and with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate an outbreak of hepatitis A cases believed to be associated with frozen mixed berries purchased from Costco. Approximately 30 cases of hepatitis A have been reported from five states (Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California).
The Kern County Public Health Services Department (KCPHSD) is asking residents to check their freezers for this product. If you should have it, dispose of it. Do not eat it.
As of today Friday, May 31st, there have not been any cases of hepatitis A in Kern County associated with this outbreak.
The first people became ill on April 29th and the most recent on May 21st. Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries purchased from Costco appear to be the source of this outbreak. This blend includes cherries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, raspberries and strawberries. Costco has removed this product from its shelves, although a formal recall has not been issued. The FDA is further investigating this product, including testing berries for the hepatitis A virus. The investigation may take several weeks to complete.
The KCPHSD recommends that individuals who have eaten Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries within the last 14 days to contact their medical provider in order to seek medical guidance. If you do not have a medical provider, KCPHSD can be contacted.
On average, symptoms of hepatitis A occur within two to six weeks after exposure and may include fever, fatigue, body ache, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark colored urine and pale stools. Jaundice or yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes may follow. The illness usually lasts 1-2 weeks, although in rare cases, symptoms can be severe and recovery can take several months. Many people infected with hepatitis A may have no symptoms or may have mild symptoms without jaundice. 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. 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 through fecal contamination (fecal-oral route) of liquids or food that does not get cooked and is then consumed. Close contacts are at risk for acquiring hepatitis A from an infected person. Prompt diagnosis is a benefit in minimizing the spread of infection. Thorough hand washing with soap and warm water after using the toilet and before handling food is the most important factor in preventing the spread of the disease.
For more information, please contact the Kern County Public Health Services Department at (661) 321-3000 or visit www.kernpublichealth.com.
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