Officials tie hepatitis A to Egyptian strawberries


The Virginia Department of Health said it has traced a “cluster” of hepatitis A cases to frozen Egyptian strawberries used by Virginia units of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe chain. 

Tropical Smoothie voluntarily trashed the strawberries and switched to supplies from a different source immediately after being notified of the connection, the health department said in a statement issued Friday.

The department noted that it had traced earlier outbreaks of hepatitis A to strawberries imported from Egypt. But it warned that supplies may still be in the freezers of other restaurants.

Using genetic testing, health officials determined that consumers afflicted with the illness had visited a Tropical Smoothie between Aug. 5 and 8. But they advised any Virginia resident who had visited the chain during the last 50 days to monitor their health for signs of hepatitis A.

It also encouraged any restaurant employee with symptoms of the illness to forgo work until they are no longer potential sources of contamination.

The classic symptom of hepatitis A is jaundice, according to the health department. Other indicators are flu-like symptoms, fatigue and abdominal pain.

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