FRANKFORT — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local partners, is investigating a multi-state outbreak of hepatitis A potentially linked to fresh conventional blackberries from a grocery store that could affect Kentucky.
While the outbreak is currently limited to a total of 16 cases in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin, traceback information shows that these berries came from a distribution center that also ships fresh berries to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska and Ohio.
The FDA says they will work with federal and state partners to obtain additional information during the traceback investigation and will update this advisory as more information becomes available.
The FDA is urging consumers to not eat any fresh blackberries bought between Sept. 9 and Sept. 30, 2019, from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in those 11 states. People who purchased the fresh blackberries and then froze those berries for later consumption should not eat them and should instead throw them away.
In addition, the FDA says anyone who ate those berries in the last two weeks and have not been vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus, should consult with their healthcare professional to determine whether post exposure treatment is needed, and is recommended for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to Hep A in the last two weeks. Those with evidence of previous hepatitis A vaccination or previous infection do not require the treatment.
The FDA urges people to contact their healthcare provider if they believe they may have become ill from eating these blackberries, which also holds true for anyone who believes they may have eaten those berries in the last two weeks.
The FDA says Hepatitis A is a contagious virus that can cause liver disease. 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.
Most 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 occur without symptoms.
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.