Ventura County Reports First Frozen Berry-related Case of Hepatitis A
As previously reported, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has warned consumers not to eat Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries sold through Costco stores, and possibly other retail outlets, as they have been linked to a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A infections.
Ventura County now has its first documented case of hepatitis A associated with the frozen berry blend. The affected individual is a male who used the product in preparing a smoothie. He has been ill at home for about 2 weeks and has not required hospitalization.
He is among over 40 cases that are being investigated nationwide. Three of these individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. In California, seven confirmed illnesses in persons who consumed this product have been reported from Humboldt, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino (2), San Diego, and now, Ventura counties.
People who are immune to hepatitis A are not at risk for getting this infection after exposure to the berry mixture product. Immunity can come from previous immunization, which has been recommended as a part of the routine immunization series for children in California since 1999, or from a prior hepatitis A infection. Many people who were raised outside of the United State will have had hepatitis A infection as a child without having had any symptoms.
Consumption of the Townsend Farms frozen berries that have been cooked or baked will have inactivated the hepatitis A virus and will therefore not make someone ill.
In the 3 weeks prior to being removed from the shelves, the Ventura County Department of Public Health believes about 400 packages of the berry mixture were sold to Ventura County residents. Ventura County Public Health advises if you have this product in your freezer, please discard it.
Costco removed this product from stores as of May 30 and is notifying their member customers who have bought this product.
Ventura County Public Health is working with the California CDPH to provide further guidance for the public and clinical providers, and will release new information as it’s warranted.
Symptoms of hepatitis A virus infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes). Symptoms develop two to six weeks after consuming contaminated food or drink and can last from one week to several months.
For more information on the recent hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen berries, please visit this website: www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/immunize/Pages/CommunicableDiseaseOutbreaks.aspx
Ventura County Public Health clinics provide preventive care, so anyone who is ill must be seen by their primary care physician, urgent care, or local emergency room. For a list of our Health Care Agency ambulatory care clinics, visit www.vchca.org/medical-clinics/clinic-locations.
Source: Ventura County Public Health, a division of the Ventura County Health Care Agency www.vchca.org