An outbreak of hepatitis A has affected almost 90 people after drinking strawberry smoothies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that the victims are from seven states and out of 54 of them interviewed by investigators, they drank strawberry smoothies before the 8th of August at a Tropical Smoothie Café in the following locations:

  • Five in West Virginia
  • 10 in Maryland
  • One in North Carolina
  • One in New York
  • One in Oregon
  • One in Wisconsin
  • 70 in Virginia

The CDC added that people who drank the smoothie after the mentioned date no longer have issues because the contaminated fruits, which were imported frozen strawberries, have already been removed. While there are no deaths reported, more than 30 people have already been hospitalized. It is expected that more cases will arise because it can take up to 50 days before symptomsof the disease start to appear.

Not the First Time

This outbreak that is linked to smoothies isn’t the first case that involved contaminated frozen food products. Back in May, CRF Frozen Foods in Washington called for a huge recall of frozen fruits and veggies because of listeria in their packaged goods. That’s not all; back in 2013, Oregon-based Townsend Farms stopped the use of frozen berry mixes after almost 50 people suffered from hepatitis.

Frozen Doesn’t Mean Safe

Many people think that freezing foods can help improve safety, but this isn’t what the outbreak showed. Consumers should be able to understand that freezing foods, along with fresh produce, can still be contaminated with viruses and bacteria. What freezing does is that it only preserves food, but cold temperatures don’t really affect bacteria – except to put them on hold. Once you thaw them, they will start multiplying and they can cause diseases.

Don't ditch this warning too easily.
Don’t ditch this warning too easily.

About Hepatitis A

As mentioned, the symptoms can appear after 50 days, which may include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice
  • Nausea
  • Joint pain
  • Abdominal pain

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus that can make you mildly to severely sick. The virus is transmitted through eating contaminated water or food. What’s scary is that this can spread from one person to another through direct contact. Thankfully, almost everyone can recover from the disease and there’s a vaccine for it that can help achieve lifelong immunity. There is no specific treatment for this disease though, but the symptoms should go away after weeks to months. Most important thing to remember is to avoid giving paracetamol or acetaminophen and any other medication that stops vomiting.

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