Update: June of 2017: You may still have time to sue Tropical Smoothie Cafe, the importer of the Egyptian strawberries and others. The food safety lawyers at Pritzker Hageman law firm have filed a lawsuit. Contact them at 1-888-377-8900 (toll-free) or use our online free consultation form.
The hepatitis A outbreak linked to Tropical Smoothie Café restaurants in Virginia continues to grow. As of 12:00 p.m. today, August 30, 2016, 44 Virginia residents who had tested positive for hepatitis A reported consuming a smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Café prior to becoming ill. There are also 7 others sick from 4 other states.
[Updated Information: As of 12 p.m., August 31, 2016, there are now 66 people sickened in the hepatitis A outbreak Virginia (44) Maryland (4), West Virginia (4), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1) and Wisconsin (1).]
Our law firm has been contacted by people sickened in this outbreak, and our hepatitis A lawyers are investigating.
Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can take months to fully recover, and in some cases, it causes liver failure. It can be fatal.
In this outbreak, approximately 50% were hospitalized. Onsets of illness range from early May through August. The 44 ill Virginia residents range in age from 15-68.
Contaminated Strawberries Likely Source of Hepatitis A Outbreak
For over 3 months, from early May until August of this year, the source of the rising number of Hepatitis A illnesses in Virginia was not known. Then in early August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did genetic testing on many of the people sickened in the outbreak. The CDC found that these people had been sickened by a strain of hepatitis A that had been associated with past outbreaks due to frozen strawberries from Egypt. Certain of the smoothies sold at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe during the time of the outbreak were made from frozen strawberries from Egypt.
Upon learning of the potential link to strawberries, Tropical Smoothie Cafe immediately conducted a voluntary product withdrawal of all strawberries sourced from Egypt and found an alternate supply.
Companies that use imported food products should take care to ensure that the products are not contaminated. When there is contamination with a deadly pathogen like hepatitis A, every company involved should be held accountable, including the importer and the restaurant.
The frozen strawberries from Egypt may have been sold to other restaurants in other states, so there may be people in other states who were sickened in this outbreak.
Anyone who consumed a smoothie with frozen strawberries at a restaurant within the last 50 days is encouraged to watch for symptoms of hepatitis A. If illness occurs, seek medical care and take steps to protect others from the infection. Hepatitis A symptoms include the following:
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin or the eyes);
- loss of appetite;
- dark urine
- colored stools.