Contaminated strawberries are the likely cause of a hepatitis A outbreak in the US and Canada, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced (opens in new tab) Saturday (May 28).
The potentially spoiled strawberries were sold under the FreshKampo and HEB brands and purchased between March 5 and April 25, 2022 in the United States (in Canada, the berries were purchased between March 5 and 9 Saskatchewan, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (opens in new tab).)
US stores that sold the berries included Aldi, HEB, Kroger, Safeway, Trader Joe’s and Walmart, among others. The potentially affected berries are now past their shelf life, but if consumers have frozen the berries for later consumption, they should not eat them, the FDA warns. “If you are not sure what brand you bought, when you bought your strawberries, or where you bought them before freezing, the strawberries should be discarded,” the agency advised.
The FDA has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to further investigate the hepatitis cases and determine if other contaminated products may have contributed to the outbreak .
Related: How do you die from hepatitis A?
So far, the strawberries have been linked to 17 cases of hepatitis A in the US, including 12 in California, one in Minnesota and one in North Dakota. Twelve of those affected required hospitalization, but there were no deaths related to the outbreak, the FDA said. In Canada, four cases have been identified in Alberta and six in Saskatchewan, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Four of those 10 cases required hospitalization and no deaths were reported.
Hepatitis infections cause inflammation of the liver, and in the most severe cases, this inflammation can lead to liver failure and death FDA (opens in new tab). Hepatitis A is specifically caused by the hepatitis A virus, which can be spread through close person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water, the authorities said CDC (opens in new tab).
Not everyone infected with hepatitis A virus develops symptoms of the disease (meaning they are asymptomatic), but if symptoms do develop, they usually appear two to seven weeks after exposure. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, pale stools, and jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin, according to the CDC. Infected people usually recover in one to two weeks, but in rare cases, hepatitis A can become chronic and lead to serious complications such as liver failure, the FDA said.
For people who have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A in the past, the CDC says the infection can be prevented with a treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if it’s given within two weeks of exposure. Depending on the patient’s age, PEP consists of either a dose of hepatitis A vaccine or specific antibodies directed against the virus. People who have previously been infected with hepatitis A or have been vaccinated against the virus do not need PEP.
Originally published on Live Science.
https://www.livescience.com/strawberries-linked-to-hepatitis-outbreak Contaminated strawberries linked to hepatitis outbreak, FDA says