Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that spreads through person-to-person contact, drug use and contaminated food. Nationwide, there has been a surge in cases spread through person-to-person contact in recent years. States hardest hit in these outbreaks are Arkansas, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia.
In Missouri, for example, 333 cases from 29 counties have been reported since 2017. At least 176 of those people required hospitalization and two of them died, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Sometimes, people who are infected show no symptoms. And, if they handle food without properly washing their hands after using the bathroom, people who eat that food can become infected with the virus.
Hepatitis A: What You Need to Know About
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include yellowing of the skin or the eyes, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools and vomiting. These symptoms usually develop about 14 days after exposure and can last for months. But they can be prevented if a vaccine is given within two weeks of exposure. It’s important to note that people who do develop symptoms are also contagious weeks before those symptoms appear.
Hepatitis A is a hearty virus that can survive extreme temperatures. It is not killed by freezing and must be heated to 185˚F to kill it.
Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health alert about frozen berries sold under the Private Selection brand at Kroger and the Kirkland brand at Costco stores potentially contaminated with Hepatitis A.
And at least two multi-state outbreaks have been linked to frozen berries contaminated with Hepatitis A. One, in 2016, when 143 people were sickened in a nine-state Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries. Some of the people said they got sick after purchasing smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Café locations. The other, in 2013, when Townsend Farms frozen berry mixes were linked to a 10-state outbreak that sickened 162 people.
If you got Hepatitis A from contaminated food and would like a free consultation with our Foodborne Illness Team, call us toll-free at 1 (888) 377-8900 or use the form below. The consultation is free and there is no obligation.