SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

Hepatitis A outbreak from frozen berries spreads to Hawaii

An outbreak of hepatitis A traced to a frozen berry blend sold in Costco stories has spread to Hawaii, which is the sixth state to report confirmed cases of the disease.

The berry mix started at the Fairview, Oregon-based Townsend Farms. The product is called Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend and is typically used in frozen yogurt. A Townsend spokesman said that pomegranate seeds from the blend were imported from Turkey. Costco has removed the Townsend Farms product from the shelves.

There have been dozens of hepatitis A cases identified in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Hawaii.

Individuals who consumed the berry mix were urged to immediately get a hepatitis A vaccine, which can prevent the disease if the shot is given within two weeks of exposure.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms of the virus range from mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness that can last several months. Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A only occurs as an acute or newly occurring infection and does not lead to chronic disease.

More cases are expected since symptoms for hepatitis A do not appear until weeks after infection with the virus.