Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Frozen Berries Sold at CostcoHepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Frozen Berries Sold at Costco
June 3, 2013
ATLANTAThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Hepatitis A linked to Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend of frozen fruit sold at Costco. Nine people have been hospitalized.
As of June 3, 2013, 34 people have been confirmed ill in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico with acute hepatitis A that may be linked with consumption of the contaminated fruit. Nineteen of 25 ill people interviewed reported eating Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, a mix of frozen berries and pomegranate seeds.
Costco is notifying its members who purchased this product since late February 2013, and has removed this product from its shelves. Preliminary laboratory studies of specimens from two cases suggest the outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus (HAV) is genotype 1B. This strain is rarely seen in the Americas, but circulates in the North Africa and Middle East regions. This genotype was identified in a 2013 outbreak in Europe linked to frozen berries and another 2012 outbreak in British Columbia related to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt.
According to the label, The Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend frozen berry mix associated with illness contained pomegranate seeds and other produce from the U.S., Argentina, Chile and Turkey.
Hepatitis A is a human disease and usually occurs when an infected food handler prepares food without appropriate hand hygiene. However, food contaminated with HAV, as is suspected in this outbreak, can cause outbreaks of disease among persons who eat or handle food.
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