The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released their final update on the multistate outbreak of hepatitis A linked to imported frozen strawberries that were sold in Tropical Smoothie Cafe products. The CDC, the FDA, and several states have completed their investigation.
Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicates that frozen strawberries imported from Egypt were the likely source of this outbreak. Almost all of the 143 people sickened reported that they drank smoothies containing strawberries at Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations before August 8, 2016 in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
A small number of cases outside of that geographic area with no Tropical Smoothie Cafe exposure were also reported to the CDC. The frozen strawberries were sold at other locations, which may explain these cases.
There is not an ongoing risk of acquiring hepatitis A infections at Tropical Smoothie Cafes. The contaminated food product was removed as of August 8, 2016. No cases of illness linked to those facilities have been reported since September 23, 2016. Fourteen of the cases had no direct exposure to Tropical Smoothie Cafe products. The latest illness onset date among that group was October 25, 2016. Since the incubation period for hepatitis A can be as long as 50 days, the outbreak is considered over.
The case count by state is: Arkansas (1), California (1), Maryland (12), New York (5), North Carolina (4), Oregon (1), Virginia (109), West Virginia (7), and Wisconsin (3). One hundred twenty-nine of those cases consumed a smoothie from Tropical Smoothie before they got sick. Fifty six ill persons were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
The FDA conducted traceback investigations and found that the frozen strawberries served in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations were imported from the International Company for Agricultural Products & Processing (ICAPP), in Egypt.FDA inspectors found the hepatitis A virus in multiple samples of ICAPP frozen strawberries.
On October 30, 2016, ICAPP recalled all of its frozen strawberries that were imported into the U.S. since January 1, 2016. Those products were distributed for use in food service establishments, nursing homes, and schools nationwide. Five states posted lists of facilities that received the recalled product.
If you were sickened in this outbreak, contact us for a free consultation regarding a possible lawsuit. Fifty-six people were hospitalized in this outbreak because their illnesses were so serious.
Some people can be sick from a hepatitis A infection for months. Those most at risk for serious complications from this illness include the elderly, the very young, people with liver disease, and those with compromised immune systems. Some of these patients can suffer liver failure and need transplants.
The symptoms of a hepatitis A infection include jaundice (yellow eyes and skin), fatigue, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored stools, fever, nausea, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Possible compensation for your illness may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of income.