Officials: Hepatitis A cases traced to blackberries sold in multiple states including Pennsylvania

Local News

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A hepatitis A outbreak in Nebraska, Indiana and Wisconsin has been traced to blackberries sold in Fresh Thyme grocery stores and federal authorities on Wednesday warned consumers in 11 states, including Ohio, against eating some berries bought from that chain.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release that the outbreak began several weeks ago in Nebraska. The department said it, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating and have confirmed 11 cases of the virus, including six in Nebraska.

Fresh Thyme said in a written statement that it’s cooperating with the investigation, working to identify its suppliers and isolate the source of the contamination.

A Fresh Thyme store is seen in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, Nov. 20,2019. Nebraska and federal health officials say a hepatitis A outbreak that includes Nebraska, Indiana and Wisconsin has been traced to blackberries sold in Fresh Thyme grocery stores. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says in a news release Wednesday that the outbreak began several week ago in Nebraska. The department says it, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating and have confirmed 11 cases. 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

“At this time, there is no reason to believe that any of the product was contaminated via handling in our stores,” the company said.

The FDA urged consumers in Nebraska, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania to not to eat any fresh blackberries bought from Fresh Thyme between Sept. 9 and Sept. 30.

Anyone who froze the berries for later use should throw them out, the FDA said.

Case Counts

Total Illnesses: 11
Hospitalizations: 6
Deaths: 0
Last illness onset: Nov. 5, 2019
States with Cases: NE, WI, IN

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a virus that infects the liver and can cause mild, flu-like symptoms for several weeks.

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, according to the FDA.

General Food Safety Tips for Consumers

People should consult their healthcare provider if they suspect that they have developed symptoms that resemble a Hepatitis A infection.

Consumers should follow these steps for preventing foodborne illness:

  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops, and utensils that may have contacted contaminated foods; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used.
  • Wash and sanitize surfaces used to serve or store potentially contaminated products.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.

Who to Contact

Consumers who have symptoms should contact their health care provider to report their symptoms and receive care.

To report a complaint or adverse event (illness or serious allergic reaction), you can

Visit www.fda.gov/fcic for additional consumer and industry assistance.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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