Categorized | Health

Tainted Costco berries sold in Hawaii

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

The Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen berries sold at Costco has spread to Hawaii.

State health officials are investigating three cases of Hepatitis A, linked to a frozen berry product.

Two cases have been reported on Oahu and one on Kauai; none have been reported on the Big Island. One person was hospitalized, but all are now recovering.

The state Department of Health announced Monday the three affected people in Hawaii ate Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, which is distributed by Costco.

Previously, federal health authorities said approximately 30 cases of the virus in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada may have been associated with the frozen berry blend.

Costco reportedly removed the product from its Hawaii stores May 29-30. The public is advised to discard or return any remaining product purchased since late February 2013.

Hepatitis A is a virus that can cause fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes. Symptoms typically last from two weeks to as long as 50 days after consumption of contaminated food or water.

All cases of suspected Hepatitis A infection should be reported to the state Department of Health by calling (808) 586-4586.

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate a multistate outbreak of Hepatitis A illnesses.

Preliminary results from the ongoing investigation:

* As of June 3, 2013, 34 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 epidemiologic investigation of 25 cases:

* 15 (60%) ill people are women

* All people are ages 18 or older, ranging from 24 – 71 years

* Illness onset dates range from 4/29/2013 – 5/21/2013

* 11 (44%) ill people have been hospitalized

* 19 (76%) of 25 ill people interviewed reported eating ‘Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend,’ a frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix

* 19 persons reported purchasing this product from ‘Costco’ markets; however, investigations are ongoing to determine if this product was sold at other stores or venues

* 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

* Preliminary laboratory studies of specimens from two cases suggest the outbreak strain of Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is genotype 1B. This strain is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in the North Africa and Middle East regions.

* 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.

* According to the label, The Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend frozen berry mix associated with illness contained pomegranate seeds and other produce from the U.S., Argentina, Chile, and Turkey

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