Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Utah Confirms Four Cases of Hepatitis A Associated with National Outbreak

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah public health officials have identified four Utahns who became ill with hepatitis A and reported eating a frozen berry blend food product. The onset dates of illness range from mid-March to mid-May.  None of the individuals were hospitalized and all have recovered.

The frozen berries, sold in all 10 Utah Costco stores, were identified as Oregon-based Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend containing berries from multiple locations (Argentina, Chile and Turkey).  Townsend Farms has voluntarily recalled the product and it has been removed from store shelves in Utah.  

Consumers are being told not to eat the product and to throw away any remaining berries,  even if someone in the household ate the product without becoming ill.

If you ate any of the product and haven’t been vaccinated against hepatitis A, contact your health care provider of local health department to find out if you should be vaccinated or receive immune globulin (IG). To be effective, IG should be given within the first two weeks after exposure. The hepatitis A vaccine can be given to persons one year of age through 40 years of age. 

Contact your health care provider right away if you develop any of these symptoms:
Yellow eyes or skin
Abdominal pain
Pale stools
Dark urine

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that usually occurs when an infected food handler prepares food without appropriate hand hygiene. But, food contaminated with hepatitis A virus, as is suspected in this outbreak, can cause illness among people who eat or handle the food. While hepatitis A can cause severe sickness, nearly all who get hepatitis A recover completely with no lasting liver damage.

As of June 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had identified 49 people in seven states believed to have contracted the disease from the Costco product.  Those states include: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California, Hawaii and Utah.  

Media Contact:
Rebecca L. Ward