If you’ve been eating a lot of frozen strawberries lately, you might want to hold off. A recent hepatitis A outbreak has been traced back to the frozen fruit.
Frozen Strawberries: Hepatitis A Outbreak
A rapidly spreading outbreak of hepatitis A that originated at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Virginia has quickly spread to Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Oregon. A spokesperson for the CDC—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—says it’s only going to get worse.
The hepatitis A infection has been traced to some frozen strawberries that arrived from Egypt; if have some that are sourced from the North African country, you might want to toss them. So far, 50 related cases of illness have been reported, but it can take up to 50 days for symptoms to appear—so many more are likely to come forward.
How You Get Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A can be contracted by mistakenly eating something carrying the virus. It’s gross to think about, but like most bacterial or viral infections, it’s acquired by eating food that’s come into contact with fecal matter in one way or another. And once a human has it, they can spread it to others quite easily. According to the CDC, it can be passed along by not washing your hands before handling food, by shaking hands, and through sexual contact.
Hepatitis A Symptoms
Symptoms of hepatitis A typically include jaundice, fever, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, vomiting, and abdominal pain. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s best to see a doctor right away.
How to Reduce Changes of Hepatitis A Infection
Although you can reduce your chances of contracting the infection by washing your hands regularly—especially after going to the bathroom and before/after handling food—vaccination is the strongest defense. A vaccination can actually prevent an infection for up to two weeks after you’ve already been exposed, so it’s highly recommended at this point in time, considering a nationwide outbreak is expected. Talk to your doctor to see if this is a good option for you.
So right now, make sure the frozen strawberries in your freezer are not from Egypt. If you got a smoothie at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe in early August, it’s best to get to your doctor as soon as possible!
Source for Today’s Article:
“FDA Investigates Outbreak of Hepatitis A Illnesses Linked to Frozen Strawberries,” U.S. Food & Drug Administration, September 8, 2016;
http://www.fda.gov/food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Outbreaks/ucm518775.htm, last accessed September 14, 2016.