FLORENCE – The Arizona Department of Health Services in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are investigating a multi-state outbreak of hepatitis A associated with Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries sold at Costco. As of May 31, 2013, approximately 30 human infections are being investigated in five states. Onset of illness ranges from mid-April 2013 to late May 2013. Costco has removed the product from its stores.
“Pinal County residents that have this product in their freezers need to throw it away,” said Tom Schryer, Director of Public Health for Pinal County.
Hepatitis A vaccine may prevent illness if given within 14 days after exposure. If you have previously been vaccinated or had the disease you do not need to be re-vaccinated.
Pinal County residents who have consumed Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries within the last 14 days should seek vaccination through their medical provider. If that is not possible residents may call (866) 960-0633 starting Monday June 3rd to be screened for vaccine eligibility at a Pinal County Public Health Clinic. Vaccine will be provided only to those that have consumed the suspected berries within the prior 14 days.
Residents that consumed this product on May 18th or 19th and are not able to acquire vaccine through their private medical providers may call (520) 866-7321 to be screened for vaccine eligibility on Saturday June 1st. Vaccine will only be provided to residents with exposures on May 18th or May 19th. Residents that may have consumed this product prior to May 18th cannot be protected by vaccine and should watch for symptoms of hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A is a viral illness that attacks the liver. People usually get the disease from consuming a contaminated food item. 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 (yellowing of the eyes or skin).
If you believe you have symptoms consistent with hepatitis A, seek attention from your medical provider. Your doctor will be able to diagnose the disease and provide further guidance.
Most people recover in a week or so, but sometimes hepatitis A can lead to hospitalization and severe illness. It is very important that if you have symptoms like this you do not go to work, especially if you work in food service, health care or child care.
For further information on hepatitis A visit http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/a/
Information specific to this ongoing hepatitis A investigation is posted at: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Outbreaks/2013/A1b-03-31/index.html.