Posted by the CDC on June 25, 2013 10:30 AM ET
CDC is collaborating with public health officials in several states and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Hepatitis A illnesses. Preliminary results from the ongoing investigation are highlighted below.
NOTE TO READERS: As of June 20, CDC is reporting on only confirmed cases. Investigation of a few remaining cases is ongoing, but the information below represents established exposure and confirmed illness.
- Read the Advice to Consumers »
- As of June 24, 2013, 120 people have been confirmed to have become ill from Hepatitis A after eating ‘Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend’ in 8 states: Arizona (16), California (62), Colorado (24), Hawaii (5), New Mexico (5), Nevada (5), Utah (2), and Wisconsin (1). [Note: The one case reported from Wisconsin resulted from exposure to the product in California.]
- 70 (58%) ill people are women
- Ages range from 2 – 84 years;
- 73 (61%) of those ill were between 40 – 64 years of age.
- Currently, 5 children under age 18 have been infected as part of this outbreak; of these, none were hospitalized, and none were previously vaccinated.
- Illness onset dates range from 3/31/2013 – 6/14/2013
- 54 (45%) ill people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported
- All those who reported eating this product purchased it from Costco markets; however, the product was also sold at Harris Teeter stores. No cases have been identified that bought the product at Harris Teeter at this time.
- Investigation by state and local health departments, FDA, and CDC is ongoing. Costco notified its members who purchased this product since late February 2013, and has removed the “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” frozen berry and pomegranate mix from its shelves. The product was distributed in 12 states (AZ, AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, and WA); however, no cases from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington have been linked to the outbreak at this time. One case was reported from Wisconsin, however, the product was not distributed in the state and the person was exposed in California.
- FDA is inspecting the processing facilities of Townsend Farms of Fairview, Oregon.
- The FDA has also finalized a protocol to test berries for the Hepatitis A virus (HAV), and is testing samples related to the outbreak for the presence of HAV.
- On June 3, 2013, Townsend Farms, Inc. of Fairview, Oregon voluntarily recalled certain lots of its frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend because it has the potential to be contaminated with hepatitis A virus.
- The outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus (HAV), belonging to genotype 1B, was found in clinical specimens of 36 people in six states. . This strain is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in North Africa and the Middle East.
- This genotype was identified in a 2013 outbreak in Europe linked to frozen berries and another 2012 outbreak in British Columbia related to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt. However, there is no evidence at this time that these outbreaks are related to the current U.S. outbreak.
- According to the label, the “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” frozen berry and pomegranate mix associated with illness contained products originating from the U.S., Argentina, Chile, and Turkey.
- 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.