In the past week, 70 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A across 7 states have been linked to frozen strawberries. These strawberries are being imported from Egypt and are commonly used in smoothies made by the popular smoothie restaurant chain, Tropical Smoothie Cafe. To date, there has been no reported deaths but at least 32 people have been hospitalized with symptoms ranging from " fatigue, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain (particular on one’s right side, under the lower ribs, where the liver resides), clay-colored stool, appetite loss, low-grade fever, dark urine, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and/or skin). Hepatitis A is highly contagious and can be contracted even if the carrier does not show any symptoms. Hepatitis A has an incubation period from about two to four weeks and others can be affected during this time.
The severity of the disease varies, and it can last from several weeks to several months. It can be fatal, but rarely is in the United States..." (Andrews 2016) which may be attributed to the advancements in medical technology and treatment in the U.S. Hepatitis A is contracted when there is consumption of fecal matter which is commonly found in food due to improper food handling and a lack of following the Universal Hand Washing Procedures and also a lack of general personal hygiene procedures.
The cases are appearing in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and other states. Maryland (6), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1), Virginia (55), West Virginia (5), and Wisconsin (1). (2016)
Tropical smoothie has made a statement that they apologize for this outbreak and assures that all of the remaining product has been discarded from all cafes voluntarily and they are not utilizing the Egyptian carrier at this time. They added that they will no longer source strawberries from overseas.
"If you think you’ve gotten sick from drinking a smoothie containing frozen strawberries from a Tropical Smoothie Café, contact your doctor.
Food handlers should contact their doctors and stay home if they are sick with Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A is a serious illness that affects the liver. Symptoms include yellow eyes or skin, abdominal pain, or pale stools.
Information available at this time does not indicate an ongoing risk of hepatitis A virus infection at Tropical Smoothie Cafes. We are not yet aware of other restaurants that may have received frozen strawberries linked to this outbreak. If this information changes, CDC will update the public immediately." (2016)
Andrews, T. M. (2016, September 02). Frozen strawberries from Egypt lead to 70 cases of hepatitis A in 7 states, including Va. and Md. Retrieved September 04, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/09/02/frozen- strawberries- from-egypt-lead-to-70-cases-of-hepatitis-a-in-7-states-including-va-and-md/
August 2016 - Multistate outbreak of hepatitis A linked to frozen strawberries. (2016, September 01). Retrieved September 04, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/outbreaks/2016/hav- strawberries.htm