Strawberries May Be Linked with Hep A Outbreak

A recent outbreak of hepatitis A in Canada and the United States is possibly linked to organic fresh strawberries and people who have purchased the berries to freeze should toss them out.  Anyone who ate the strawberries under question, sold under the HEB and Fresh Kampo labels, should talk with their doctor if they haven’t been vaccinated against hepatitis A. 

As reported recently by NPR Health, the strawberries were sold between March 5 and April 25 in retailers including Trader Joe’s, Kroger, Safeway, Aldi, Walmart, and HEB, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Hepatitis A can cause a fever, dark urine, jaundice, fatigue, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and nausea or abdominal pain.  Although a small percentage of people don’t show signs of infection, adults usually begin to show symptoms about 28 days after contracting the disease.  However, children often don’t show any signs or symptoms of infection, making it easier to pass on the virus to others.  

A blood test is used to detect the virus up to two weeks before symptoms develop.   Hepatitis A does not usually cause longer complications, but according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, between 10 and 15 percent of people will have symptoms for up to a year.  In severe cases, hepatitis A can lead to liver failure.  People with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and people with HIV are at increased risk for severe disease from hepatitis A infection.  Liver failure is more common in people over the age of 50. 

Treatment for adults includes staying well hydrated, eating a nutritious diet, and finding a comfortable position to rest.  A dose of immunoglobulin containing hepatitis A antibodies can reduce the severity of the disease but does not prevent the spread of the virus. 

Practicing good hand hygiene, properly washing and cooking foods, and keeping a clean kitchen or food preparation area can help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.  Always wash hands thoroughly after changing diapers, and before handling food.   Learn more about viral hepatitis A by following this link to the CDC website.