State and federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of Hepatitis A that may stem from frozen mixed berries sold at Costco.
Thirty cases have been reported since late April in Colorado and four other western states: New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California. The most recent outbreak was on May 21, but health officials say it takes around 30 days to become sick with Hepatitis A, so the number of those infected could change.
In Colorado, five people living in Adams, Boulder, Clear Creek, Eagle and Jefferson counties have fallen ill.
Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries are believed to be the source of the outbreak, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health. Costco has removed the product from their shelves but not yet issued a formal recall. The FDA is testing the berries in the product.
The following is from the state department of health:
The risk of contracting hepatitis A from eating these berries is low. However, if you have eaten Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries during the past 14 days, contact your medical provider for an immunization. If you do not have a medical provider, contact your local health department.
The hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection if given within 14 days of exposure. Some people should receive immune globulin instead of the hepatitis A vaccine. If you ate these berries within the past 14 days please discuss with your doctor whether you should receive the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin. If you have received hepatitis A vaccine in the past, you do not need to be revaccinated.
If it has been more than 14 days since you have eaten these berries, the vaccine won’t be effective preventing infection. Please monitor for symptoms and contact your physician if you become ill.
Early signs of hepatitis A appear two to six weeks after exposure. Symptoms commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, dark urine and jaundice (yellow eyes or skin). 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.
The disease varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting four to six weeks or longer. Hepatitis A infection can be severe and can result in hospitalization. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice and may have an illness so mild it can go unnoticed. 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 as a result of fecal contamination (fecal-oral route) and may be spread from person to person through close contact or through food handling. The virus is commonly spread by contaminated food or beverages. People are at increased risk of acquiring hepatitis A when they have been in close contact with an infected person.
For more information, please see the CDC website at
www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Choosea.htm or call COHelp at 1-877-462-2911.
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