Frozen Fruit Sold In Idaho Linked To Hepatitis Outbreak

Jun 3, 2013

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says berries sold at Costco stores may be linked to an outbreak of hepatitis.

The frozen berry brand, 'Townsend Farms organic Anti-Oxidant Blend', has been pulled from Costco's shelves, and the store says to toss out any remaining product.

Although Idaho Costco stores carry these frozen berries, the health department says illness associated with the fruit hasn't been reported in Idaho.

Here's more information from the Department of Health and Welfare:

People who have eaten these berries and develop yellow eyes or skin, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, pale stools or dark urine should contact their healthcare provider immediately.  Symptoms usually develop between 2 and 7 weeks after ingesting a contaminated food or beverage. It is very important if you have these symptoms that you do not go to work, especially if you work in food service, health care or child care.

People who consumed the berries within the last two weeks can prevent illness by receiving a vaccination if they have not been vaccinated for hepatitis A before. People can contact their health care provider or their local public health district for vaccination information. If a person received the Hepatitis A vaccine in the past, they are unlikely to become ill with the disease. 

Hepatitis A is an acute liver disease often caused by improper handwashing by a food handler. Illnesses are most often associated with diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, which can be more severe in people with chronic medical conditions that affect their immune system.

Approximately 34 people from Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California have been reported with hepatitis A infections that may be associated with consuming the berry mix.  Costco stores in Washington state also sold the frozen berries being investigated, however, like Idaho there have been no reports of associated illnesses to date.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control website or call your local public health office.