The Townsend Farms hepatitis A outbreak associated with berries sold at Costco has sickened 113 people, 5 of whom are under 18, according to a June 21 update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The 113 confirmed cases are in the following seven states: Arizona (15), California (57), Colorado (23), Hawaii (5), New Mexico (5), Nevada (5), and Utah (3). Fifty people have been hospitalized. The case patients range in age from 2 to 84, although most are between the ages of 40 and 64. About 59 percent of the case patients are female.
Based on information from interviews with patients, onset of illness dates ranged from March 31 2013 – June 13 2013. All patients who reported eating berries in question- Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, said they purchased it from Costco stores. But the product was also sold under the name Harris Teeter Organics Antioxidant Berry Blend at Harris Teeter stores. At this time, no cases have been identified with berries purchased at Harris Teeter stores. Townsend and Harris Teeter both issued recalls and Costco notified customers.
An investigation by state and local health departments, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is ongoing. The FDA is inspecting the processing facilities of Townsend Farms of Fairview, Oregon; has finalized a protocol to test berries for the Hepatitis A virus (HAV), and is testing samples related to the outbreak for the presence of HAV.
Hepatitis A is a virus. It causes inflammation of the liver. Symptoms usually take two to seven weeks after exposure to develop and include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, stomach pain, and yellowing of the skin or eyes. Some people who are infected with the virus have no symptoms at all. Once it sets in, the illness can be mild, lasting a couple of weeks or severe lasting several months.