WASHOE COUNTY, Nev. — A third case of hepatitis A was recently identified in Washoe County as part of a multi-state outbreak linked to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of berries sold by Costco.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and the US Food and Drug Administration, that brings the current case total to nearly 130 cases in eight states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin.
The new case has prompted local health officials to remind people that the frozen berry product may still be in freezers and could be used by consumers who are unaware of the product recall. Anyone who has purchased this product should stop eating it immediately and discard any unused berry blend.
The initial onset of the hepatitis A outbreak began in late March 2013. Townsend Farms and Costco began a product recall on June 3. By combining information gained from FDA and CDC investigations, both agencies have determined that the most likely vehicle for the hepatitis A virus appears to be a common shipment of pomegranate seeds from Turkey used by Townsend Farms to make the recalled Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend.
Two other products associated with these pomegranate seeds have also been pulled from grocery freezers: Harris Teeter Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend, and Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels. Neither of these products were shipped or distributed to Nevada.
“We remind anyone who has purchased Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend to discard it immediately,” said Interim Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick. “In addition, if they have consumed Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend recently, or if they have consumed Harris Teeter Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend, or Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels while outside Washoe County recently, people should contact their primary health care provider or the Health District to determine whether a hepatitis A vaccination is indicated.”
People who have had physician diagnosed hepatitis A or have received two doses of hepatitis A vaccine in the past do not need to receive more vaccine, Dick added.
Hepatitis A is a viral illness that attacks the liver. People usually get the disease from consuming a contaminated food item. Early signs of hepatitis A appear two to six weeks after exposure. Symptoms commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, dark urine, and jaundice (yellow eyes or skin).
Most people recover in a week or so, but sometimes hepatitis A can lead to hospitalization and severe illness. It is very important that if you have symptoms like this you do not go to work, especially if you work in food service, health care or child care.
More information on hepatitis A can be found at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Outbreaks/2013/A1b-03-31/index.html, or on the Washoe County Health District website at http://www.washoecounty.us/health/hav. The Health District’s site also has information on immunization fees, clinic hours of operations, and appointment scheduling.
This article was supplied to the Bonanza by the Washoe County Health District.