August 23, 2019

Townsend Farms-Costco Hepatitis A Outbreak Updated Again by CDC

The Centers for Disease Control (in what has become an almost daily occurrence) has updated its investigation into the multistate outbreak of Hepatitis A “potentially associated” with Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berry and pomegranate mix sold at Costco. Now 99 people in 8 states are sick; 44 people have been hospitalized. The case count maps and epidemiological curves the CDC is providing are out of date; we are showing them to indicate the possible trajectory of the outbreak.

Hepatitis-A-Epi-Curve

The case patients live in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington state. Since 51% of ill people have been hospitalized, this is a serious infection. All of those infected purchased the product from Costco. It’s also sold at Harris Teeter stores under the Harris Teeter brand name, but no illnesses are associated with that product.

Illness onset dates are from 3/16/13 to 6/4/13. The age range of patients is from 2 years to 87 years. Most of the ill people are women. And most people (83%) ate the Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berry and pomegranate mix before becoming ill.

The products have been recalled by the FDA, and that agency is finalizing a protocol to test berries for the Hepatitis A virus. The fruit mix contained products grown in the U.S., Argentina, Chile, and Turkey. The Townsend Farms facility passed a recent inspection conducted by public health officials. That inspection focused on employee health and food handling, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Public Health Division.

Anyone with symptoms of Hepatitis A, including yellowing of eyes and skin, tiredness, dark urine, clay colored stools, abdominal cramps, and nausea, should see a health care provider. If you were exposed to the virus within 14 days, you can receive a Hepatitis A or immune globulin vaccine. After that time, supportive care will be given. Most people recover within a week or two, but some people develop a more serious illness with this infection.

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