A case of hepatitis A in Contra Costa County may be linked to a multistate outbreak being investigated in connection with Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries sold at Costco stores. Local health officials warn residents not to eat the berries and urge anyone who has eaten the product in the last 14 days to contact their health care provider about getting vaccinated to help prevent the illness.
About 880 bags of frozen berries were sold in the last 4 weeks at Costco stores throughout Contra Costa County. A 62-year-old woman from East Contra Costa County was hospitalized after becoming ill with hepatitis last month and has since recovered. She purchased the frozen berry blend from a Costco in Contra Costa and her illness is likely connected to the berries.
According to state and federal health officials, which issued a warning on Friday, about 30 people in 5 states, including California, have gotten sick with hepatitis A after eating Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries – a mixture of cherries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, raspberries and strawberries – purchased from Costco stores. Costco has taken the product off its store shelves, and is alerting consumers who purchased the product since late February 2013 not to eat it. The product may also be sold at other stores, and the investigation is ongoing. Contra Costa Public Health will continue to work with the California Department of Public Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the outbreak.
Hepatitis A illness can start between two and six weeks after exposure. Common symptoms are dark yellow or brown urine, yellowing of skin and white parts of eyes (called jaundice), diarrhea or light-colored stool, fever/chills, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, upset stomach, stomach pain in the upper right side of the belly, and fatigue. Hepatitis A disease can be mild, especially in children, or it can be severe, with symptoms lasting several months and requiring hospitalization. People who get sick, even with mild symptoms, after eating the berries should contact their health care provider right away.
People who have had hepatitis A before or have been vaccinated are likely immune. People who may have been exposed to hepatitis A can be vaccinated within 14 days of exposure. More information about hepatitis A is available on the Contra Costa Health Services website at http://cchealth.org/hepatitis-a/