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FDA, CDC report hepatitis outbreak related to blackberries

Albany Herald - 12/23/2019

Dec. 23--WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local partners, is investigating a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A illnesses in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin potentially linked to fresh, conventional (non-organic) blackberries from the grocery stores Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and Woodman's Market.

The CDC has updated its case count to 18 illnesses.

Based on the epidemiological information collected in the investigation thus far, ill patients reported consuming fresh, conventional blackberries bought in six states including Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Case patients reported buying them from either Fresh Thyme Farmers Market or Woodman's Market.

Currently, traceback information shows that the berries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market came from a distribution center that ships fresh berries to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in 11 states: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. As the investigation continues, the FDA will work with federal and state partners to obtain additional information, including Woodman's Market, during the traceback investigation and will update this advisory as more information becomes available.

The FDA urges consumers not to eat any fresh, conventional blackberries if purchased between Sept. 9-30 from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in the 11 states mentioned above or from Woodman's Market located in Wisconsin and Illinois. People who purchased the fresh blackberries and then froze those berries for later consumption should not eat these berries. They should be thrown away.

If consumers purchased fresh, conventional blackberries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in the 11 states listed above or from Woodman's Market located in Wisconsin and Illinois between Sept. 9-30, ate those berries in the last two weeks, and have not been vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus, they should consult with their health care professional to determine whether post exposure prophylaxis is indicated. PEP is recommended for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to HAV in the last two weeks. Those with evidence of previous hepatitis A vaccination or previous hepatitis A infection do not require PEP.

Individuals should contact their health care provider if they think they may have become ill from eating these blackberries, or if they believe that they have eaten these berries in the last two weeks.

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