Check your frozen strawberries: Hep A outbreak linked to fruit sold in San Diego stores
Frozen strawberries linked to an outbreak of hepatitis A sickened at least seven people in California and Washington state. Some of the potentially contaminated berries were sold in San Diego stores. A voluntary recall includes fruit sold at two San Diego County Costco business centers, Trader Joes and Aldi stores. Los Angeles County health officials said Friday they identified a case linked to the outbreak.
CDC investigators said the hepatitis A cases in California and Washington state are likely linked to frozen strawberries from farms in Baja California.
Last month a federal investigation prompted Otay Mesa fruit distributor, California Splendor, to recall frozen organic strawberries from Costcos, including two business centers in Kearny Mesa and San Marcos. A food distributor in Oregon also recalled strawberries which were sent to Trader Joes and Aldi stores across California. The FDA said people should not eat the potentially contaminated berries and either return them or toss them out.
"If you’ve been exposed to it ... let your doctor know," said Dr. William Tseng, assistant chief of staff at Kaiser Permanente San Diego.
Tseng said hep A commonly spreads through fecal matter. He said if someone is exposed and becomes infected they might start seeing symptoms a few weeks later.
"Sudden abdominal pain nausea, vomiting, diarrhea — then four days after that, you start to notice you’re urine gets really really dark, plus your stool gets really pale," Tseng said. "If you see that, you’ve got to go to the doctor to get it tested out."
Tseng says less than 10% of those infected with hep A will have symptoms, most cases resolve on their own, and young children generally have fewer symptoms from the virus. Vaccines and post-infection treatments are available. The FDA’s website has images of the bags of frozen strawberry included in the recall and details including specific expiration dates and lot numbers affected.
San Diego County Health officials have been tracking a small uptick in hep A cases since January, but a spokesperson said none are connected to the outbreak involving frozen strawberries.
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