Multistate Hepatitis A Cases Traced to Berries, Officials Say

By The Associated Press

LINCOLN—A hepatitis A outbreak in Nebraska, Indiana, and Wisconsin has been traced back to blackberries sold in Fresh Thyme grocery stores, and federal authorities on Wednesday warned consumers in 11 states 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.

“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.

File image of frozen raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. (Devin Rajaram/Unsplash)

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

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said hepatitis A is “usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water.”

It adds, “Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection. Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice, which usually resolve within 2 months of infection; most children less than 6 years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. Antibodies produced in response to hepatitis A infection last for life and protect against reinfection.”

Those who are at risk of contracting the disease include travelers to countries with high or intermediate endemicity of Hepatitis A Virus infection, users of injection and non-injection drugs, household members and other close personal contacts of adopted children newly arriving from countries with high or intermediate hepatitis A endemicity, and more, according to the CDC’s website.

Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report.