A massive recall of frozen strawberries has been issued because the fruits were contaminated with the hepatitis A virus. Therefore, the public health officials in Ottawa County decided to take active measures to prevent an outbreak.
Local food markets have been thoroughly analyzed for any signs of hepatitis A contamination. Fortunately, the county’s Department of Health said that these products were not directly sold to customers and no cases were reported.
This contagious liver condition has an incubating period of between two weeks and two months after the exposure. Patients may experience a broad array of symptoms such as pale stool, dark urine, abnormal liver tests, jaundice, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, yellowed skin and eyes.
Many other outbreaks due to this foodborne illness occurred over the past two decades. For instance, green onions contaminated with hepatitis A caused a massive outbreak in Mexico in 2003.
More than 500 people were infected, five of them died, and one patient survived thanks to a liver transplant. In 2013, over 165 people were sickened after frozen pomegranates from Turkey were used in the Costco frozen berry mix.
Also, Tropical Smoothie Cafes are responsible for more than 140 hepatitis A cases due to frozen strawberries imported from Egypt. The recall includes all products sold since January this year as many people might still have the contaminated frozen strawberries in their refrigerators.
Besides consumers, many food handlers are infected every year with hepatitis A. Public health officials across the country underline that people should get vaccinated, especially food handlers, to prevent them from getting infected with the hepatitis A virus.
This disease is dangerous because the symptoms occur a long time after the exposure, meaning that the infected person might transmit the virus to other people as well.
The infection might be transmitted through the exchange of body fluids, using contaminated needles, and unprotected sex. The CDC officials urge citizens to refrain from consuming imported vegetables, frozen fruits, and shellfish harvested from contaminated water.
Also, people should avoid eating inadequately cooked food, because they are more likely to develop hepatitis A. This illness is preventable if people are better informed and aware of the risks of purchasing imported and frozen products.
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