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Fresh Strawberries Hepatitis Outbreak

Posted in Hepatitis A,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on May 29, 2022

The FDA, along with CDC, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, state, and local partners are investigating a multi-state outbreak of hepatitis A infections in the United States and Canada potentially linked to fresh organic strawberries. Here is everything we currently know about this Fresh Strawberries Hepatitis Outbreak:

Fresh Strawberries Hepatitis Outbreak

The strawberries implicated in this branded as FreshKampo and HEB, purchased between March 5, 2022, and April 25, 2022.

Currently, the potentially affected FreshKampo and HEB products are past shelf life. People who purchased FreshKampo and HEB fresh organic strawberries between March 5, 2022, and April 25, 2022, and then froze those strawberries for later consumption should not eat them. These products were sold at the following retailers, including, but not limited to:

  • Aldi
  • HEB
  • Kroger
  • Safeway
  • Sprouts Farmers Market
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Walmart
  • Weis Markets
  • WinCo Foods

If you are unsure of what brand you purchased, when you purchased your strawberries, or where you purchased them from prior to freezing them, the strawberries should be thrown away.

According to the FDA, epidemiologic and traceback data show that fresh organic strawberries  sold as FreshKampo and HEB brands that were purchased between March 5, 2022, and April 25, 2022, are a likely cause of illness in this outbreak. The traceback investigations show that cases in California, Minnesota, and Canada report having purchased fresh organic strawberries branded as FreshKampo or HEB prior to becoming ill. Illness onset dates range from March 28 – April 30, 2022.

As this investigation is ongoing, additional products may be included. More information will be provided in this advisory as it becomes available.

What is Hepatitis?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, hepatitis means “inflammation of the liver.” Hepatitis A is an extremely contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. (There are two other types of hepatitis virus, you know them as the vibrantly named hepatitis B and hepatitis C. They are actually three distinct viruses, which are transferred differently, and affect the liver differently. There are vaccines available for hepatitis A and B, but not C.) Hepatitis A is a short-term infection that doesn’t become chronic. Hepatitis A can be mild, and last only a few weeks, but it can also be severe and last several months. Most of the time, there is no lasting liver damage from hepatitis A. It’s rare, but people can die from hepatitis. Typically, the people most at risk from severe complication are those older than 50 and those who have other liver diseases.

What are the symptoms?

There aren’t always symptoms. Children under age 6 do not have symptoms. In adults and children over the age of 6 symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

Most older children and adults who contract hepatitis A will display jaundice. Typically, if there are symptoms, they will show right around 4 weeks from exposure. Symptoms can show as early as 2 weeks after exposure, and as late as 7 weeks after exposure. Normally symptoms will last less than 2 months but can last as long as 6 months. A person doesn’t have to have symptoms to be contagious, and can share the virus up to 2 weeks before the virus shows symptoms in them.

If you suspect that you may have or may have been exposed to hepatitis A, a doctor can diagnose you by asking questions an taking a blood sample. The treatment usually involves good nutrition and adequate fluids. Some people will need additional medical care. It can take months for people to feel well again.

How can protect yourself and your family?

As mentioned, there is a vaccine for hepatitis A, and simply practicing good hand hygiene can prevent the spread of hepatitis. Make sure that you thoroughly wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing or eating food.

The CDC recommends that at-risk people get the hepatitis A vaccine.

  • All children at age 1 year (day care provides many opportunities to communicate disease)
  • Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
  • Men who have sexual encounters with other men
  • Users of recreational drugs, whether injected or not
  • People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • People with clotting-factor disorders
  • People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A

The vaccination process is somewhat involved, requiring 2 shots given 6 months apart, and both shots are necessary if you want long term protection. There is a dual A&B vaccine which is 3 shots given over 6 months. The vaccine has shown as highly effective in preventing hepatitis A virus infection. A short term protection option is something called immune globulin (IG) which is an injection of human blood plasma that contains antibodies which can protect against the infection. Sometimes IG is used before traveling to a country where hepatitis A is common, or after exposure to the virus to prevent infection. It must be given within 2 weeks of exposure to be effective.

How does it spread?

Usually, people contract hepatitis A by ingesting it from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.

Yeah.

From stool.

People can also contract the virus from being in close physical contact with an infected person, either romantically or as a caregiver. Hepatitis A is common in countries with poor sanitary conditions or poor personal hygiene.

In the United States, public water supplies are treated to kill harmful microbes like hepatitis A should it enter the water supply and the FDA monitors natural bodies of water which are used for recreation.

FDA’s Recommendations

Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not sell, serve, or eat any fresh organic strawberries branded as FreshKampo or HEB if purchased between March 5, 2022, and April 25, 2022. People who purchased the fresh strawberries and then froze those strawberries for later consumption should not eat them. They should be thrown away. Currently, the potentially affected product is past its shelf life. If you are unsure of what brand you purchased, when you purchased your strawberries, or where you purchased them from prior to freezing them, the strawberries should be thrown away.

If consumers purchased fresh organic strawberries branded as FreshKampo or HEB between March 5, 2022, and April 25, 2022, ate those berries in the last two weeks, and have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A, they should immediately consult with their healthcare professional to determine whether post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is needed. PEP is recommended for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to hepatitis A virus in the last two weeks because vaccination can prevent a hepatitis A infection if given within 14 days of exposure. Those with evidence of previous hepatitis A vaccination or previous hepatitis A infection do not require PEP.

Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may have symptoms of a hepatitis A infection after eating these fresh organic strawberries, or if you believe that you have eaten these strawberries in the last two weeks.

How The Lange Law Firm Can Help

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water.  When corporations cause food poisoning outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm is the only law firm in the nation solely focused on helping families in food poisoning lawsuits and contaminated water lawsuits.

If you got Hepatitis food poisoning and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation in this Fresh Strawberries Hepatitis Outbreak, we can help.  Our Hep A lawyer can help you pursue compensation for your food poisoning.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.