Mike Timmermann, clarkhoward.com
Health authorities are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A in the United States that has been linked to frozen strawberries from Egypt, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
CDC: Egyptian strawberries likely source of hepatitis A outbreak
There have been reports of at least 70 illnesses since early August, mostly in Virginia. People in Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, West Virginia and Wisconsin have also been affected.
While the CDC said 32 of those who fell ill have been hospitalized, no deaths have been reported.
Nearly all of those sickened said they drank smoothies containing strawberries at Tropical Smoothie Café locations in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
In a video posted to YouTube, the CEO of Tropical Smoothie Cafe said the chain has removed the Egyptian frozen strawberries from all restaurants. The retailer has switched to another supplier.
As of September 6, the CDC said it is not aware of other restaurant chains that may have received frozen strawberries linked to this outbreak.
What you need to know about hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a contagious illness that affects the liver. Symptoms include yellow eyes or skin, abdominal pain or pale stools. The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended as part of routine childhood vaccinations and for adults at high risk.
On its website, the CDC recommends that the following groups get vaccinated:
- All children at age 1 year
- Travelers to countries that have high rates of hepatitis A
- Family members and caregivers of recent adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
- Men who have sexual contact with other men
- Users of injection and non-injection illegal drugs
- People with chronic liver disease
- People who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates
- People who work with hepatitis A infected animals or in a hepatitis A research laboratory
Because people with hepatitis A may not have symptoms until 15 to 50 days after consuming a contaminated food or drink, the CDC expects more illnesses linked to this outbreak.
If you got sick from drinking one of these smoothies, contact your doctor immediately.
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