Virginia hepatitis A cases now at 80; multi-state outbreak reaches 99

Posted at 2:12 PM, Sep 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-08 14:51:48-04

RICHMOND, Va. — The number of confirmed cases of hepatitis A linked to frozen strawberries used at Tropical Smoothie Cafes across Virginia continues to climb.

On Sept. 7, the Virginia Department of Health posted that 80 state residents have tested positive for hepatitis A, a viral infection which affects the liver, after consuming a smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Café.

A total of 99 people have been affected, from seven states: Maryland (10), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1), Virginia (80), West Virginia (5), and Wisconsin (1). The data from the CDC actually shows the Va. count at 70, but VDH data differs.

The greatest area affected is the Mid-Atlantic, and the count by Virginia region is: 45 Northern, 11 Northwest, 14 Eastern, 10 Central, 0 Southwest.

Those smoothies would have been consumed before August 9, 2016.  Onsets of illness for the 80 cases can be traced back to May.

The hepatitis A outbreak was first reported on August 19, and the cases have steadily increased as more people come forward, and get tested.

The strawberries were from Egypt, but no federal agency has named the distributor who supplied the Tropical Smoothie stores.

A law firm representing several people who became sick announced plans to file a class action lawsuit against the chain in connection with the outbreak.

Classic symptoms of hepatitis A are fatigue, nausea, abdominal cramps and jaundice, the yellowing of the skin and eyes. Symptoms can develop 50 days after exposure, officials said. People who have been vaccinated for hepatitis A are not at risk, officials said. Additionally, health experts stressed customers who consumed a smoothie after the strawberries were pulled from restaurants are not be at risk.

The CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café said the strawberries in question were voluntarily removed from all stores when they learned of a possible link.