UPDATE: Investigation continues into VA hepatitis A outbreak
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Virginia Department of Health is continuing to investigate an outbreak of hepatitis A that has caused 66 Virginia residents to test positive for the virus as of Friday.
The department has found a link between these cases and smoothies sold at Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations in Virginia that contained frozen strawberries sourced from Egypt. Tropical Smoothie has since found an alternate supply of strawberries.
Approximately 42% of the infected Virginians have been hospitalized for their illness. Reports of the illness have been occurring since early May through early August. Anyone who consumed a strawberry-containing smoothie from a restaurant location after August 9 is not at risk.
“Individuals who consumed a smoothie from a Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Virginia that contained frozen strawberries, on August 5, 6, 7 or 8, 2016, may still benefit from vaccine or immune globulin to prevent hepatitis A,” stated the department in a press release.
The most classic sign of a hepatitis A infection is jaundice, which causes the afflicted person’s skin or eyes to yellow. Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light-colored stool. Symptoms develop 15-50 days after exposure.
Hepatitis A, like other hepatitis illnesses, attacks the liver. Unlike hepatitis C, it is not a lifelong affliction, and according to the World Health Organization, recovery will take place over a period of months.
The Virginia Department of Health will update about this outbreak again on September 6.