Two cases of hepatitis A in San Diego have been linked to a brand of frozen berries sold at Costco stores, local health officials said.
The local cases are part of a five-state hepatitis A outbreak associated with at least 30 cases. As of Friday night, six of those cases were reported in California.
The outbreak is being investigated by multiple agencies, including the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal Food and Drug Administration, and the California Department of Public Health.
Health officials believe the hepatitis A cases may be tied to consumers who ate Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries sold at Costco stores. The California Department of Public Health is warning consumers not to eat the product.
The local residents with hepatitis A both reported eating the berry blend, HHSA officials said.
HHSA officials say the number of cases in San Diego County and other affected states may increase because it can take up to 30 days to become ill with hepatitis A after being exposed to the virus.
“If you ate Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend frozen berries within the past two weeks and you have never been vaccinated for hepatitis A or had the disease, you should contact your health care provider to discuss hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin,” said deputy county public health officer Eric McDonald, M.D.
McDonald said those who have purchased the frozen berry product should discard it immediately.
The HHSA says Costco has removed the product from shelves, but a formal recall has not yet been issued. The FDA is conducting more tests on the product for traces of the hepatitis A virus.
Health officials say symptoms of hepatitis A include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, abdomen pain, dark urine and jaundice. Anyone with those symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
The HHSA says hepatitis A varies in severity. Mild cases can last two weeks, while more severe cases can lead to hospitalization. The virus is spread from person to person, or through contaminated food or beverages.
For more information on hepatitis A, visit the CDC’s website.