It’s too late for people who ate fresh blackberries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market grocery stores in September to take post-exposure vaccines, but it’s not too late for them to become ill from the hepatitis A virus that is believed to have contaminated the berries.
“People who purchased the fresh blackberries and then froze those berries for later consumption should not eat these berries. They should be thrown away,” according to a warning from the Food and Drug Administration. Freezing does not kill the virus.
It can take 50 days or more for symptoms of the liver virus to develop, so anyone who ate fresh blackberries in September should continue to monitor themselves for symptoms.
“If consumers purchased fresh conventional blackberries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in the 11 states listed below between Sept. 9-30, and ate those berries in the last two weeks, and have not been vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus (HAV), they should consult with their healthcare professional to determine whether post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is indicated. PEP is recommended for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to HAV in the last two weeks.”
Thus far the outbreak has involved patients who reported eating the berries from stores in Indiana, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s announcement today.
“However, traceback information to date shows that these berries came from a distribution center that ships fresh berries to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in 11 states: IA, IL, IN, KY, MI, MO, MN, NE, OH, PA, and WI,” the agency reported. “As this investigation continues, the FDA will work with our federal and state partners to obtain additional information during the traceback investigation and will update this advisory as more information becomes available.”
About hepatitis A infections
Hepatitis A is a contagious virus that can cause liver disease. A hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. In rare cases, particularly for people with a pre-existing health condition or people with weakened immune systems, hepatitis A infections can progress to liver failure and death.
The majority of hepatitis A infections are from unknown causes or from being in close contact with an infected person; however, some hepatitis A infections are caused by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Contamination of food can occur at any point during harvesting, processing, and distribution.
Illness usually occurs within 15 to 50 days after eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, jaundice, dark urine, and pale stool. In some instances, particularly in children under the age of six, hepatitis A infection may be asymptomatic. People with hepatitis A infections usually completely recover within one to two months; however, in rare cases hepatitis A may cause prolonged or relapsing infection.
Due to the range in severity of illness, people should consult their health care provider if they suspect that they have developed symptoms that resemble a(n) hepatitis A infection. All people are susceptible to hepatitis A infection; however, individuals who have had hepatitis A before or who have been vaccinated are immune to hepatitis A infection.
Editor’s note originally posted Nov. 3: At this time, the credibility of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not to be trusted. Both agencies have shown a reckless disregard for the public’s right to know, and their reliability going forward remains suspect. For the next six weeks, Food Safety News will publish this note above on every story involving the FDA or CDC.
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