As of May 31, 2013, 30 people ill with acute hepatitis A that may be linked with consumption of a contaminated product have been reported by five states: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and California. These numbers are expected to change as the investigation continues. Based on investigation findings out of 19 cases: 11 of 17 ill people interviewed reported eating ‘Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend,’ a frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix.
Do not eat ‘Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend’ and discard any remaining product from your freezers. Even if some of the product has been eaten without anyone in your home becoming ill, the rest of the product should be discarded. Hepatitis A vaccination can prevent illness if given within two weeks of exposure to the contaminated product. An investigation by state health departments, FDA, and CDC is ongoing. Costco is notifying its members who purchased this product since late February 2013, and has removed this product from its shelves.
If you consumed this product in the last two weeks and have never been vaccinated, contact your health care provider to find out if you should be vaccinated. If you don’t have a health care provider (usually your doctor) contact your health department. You can find health department contact information at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/international/relres.html
If you have already received the hepatitis A vaccination in the past, you are unlikely to become ill with the disease. Contact your health care provider right away if you develop any of these symptoms: fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine, and pale stool. Illness occurs within 15 – 50 days of exposure.
Hepatitis A is a human disease and usually occurs when an infected food handler prepares food without appropriate hand hygiene. However, food contaminated with HAV, as is suspected in this outbreak, can cause outbreaks of disease among persons who eat or handle food. In rare cases, particularly in patients with pre-existing severe illness or immune compromise, HAV infection can progress to liver failure and death. Persons with underlying liver conditions should be vaccinated.
You can prevent cross-contamination in food preparation areas by thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water, and disinfect counters, cutting boards, and cooking utensils after use. Wash your hands thoroughly right after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing, serving, or eating food.