The Tropical Smoothie Cafe Hepatitis A outbreak continues to expand and now includes at least 81 confirmed cases in seven states. The outbreak has been linked to frozen strawberries imported from Egypt which, the company says, were removed from all stores on August 9.
Most of the illnesses are in Virginia where the case count increased from 55 yesterday to 66 today. Hepatitis A has can take as long as 50 days to incubate, so although these cases are newly confirmed, they stem from contaminated smoothies served at Tropical Smoothie Cafes before August 9.
The 66 people sickened in Virginia range in age from 14 to 68 and reported onset of illnesses dates ranging from May to August. About 42 percent of them were so sick they required hospitalization. The case count by region of the states is as follows: Northern (37) , Northwest (10), Eastern (13), Central (6) and Southwest (0). The other states reporting cases are: Maryland (6), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1), West Virginia (5), and Wisconsin (1).
Hepatitis A is a virus that affects the liver and is spread from person to person and when an infected person handles food that is consumed by others. Infected people can be contagious for weeks before they start experiencing symptoms, and sometimes show no symptoms at all.
Symptoms of a Hepatitis A infection include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, joint pain, dark urine, clay-colored stools and yellow skin or eyes. These symptoms, which can last between three and eight weeks, usually start 28 days after exposure, but can appear anywhere from 15 to 50 days after exposure.