Based on available epidemiologic data from 87 of the 99 cases under investigation:
55 (63%) ill people are women
Ages range from 2 – 87 years
Illness onset dates range from 3/16/2013 – 6/4/2013
44 (51%) ill people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported
71 of 87 (82%) ill people interviewed reported eating “Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend” frozen berry and pomegranate mix
All those who reported eating this product purchased it from Costco markets; however, the product was also sold at Harris Teeter stores. No cases have been identified that bought the product at Harris Teeter at this time.
Investigation by state and local health departments, FDA, and CDC is ongoing. Costco notified its members who purchased this product since late February 2013, and has removed the “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” frozen berry and pomegranate mix from its shelves.
FDA has begun an inspection of the processing facilities of Townsend Farms of Fairview, Oregon.
The FDA is also finalizing a protocol to test berries for the Hepatitis A virus (HAV), and will be testing samples related to the outbreak, including the frozen blend for the presence of HAV.
On June 3, 2013, Townsend Farms, Inc. of Fairview, Oregon voluntarily recalled certain lots of its frozen Organic Antioxidant BlendExternal Web Site Icon because it has the potential to be contaminated with hepatitis A virus.
Preliminary laboratory studies of specimens from five states suggest the outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus (HAV) is genotype 1B. This strain is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in North Africa and the Middle East.
This genotype was identified in a 2013 outbreak in Europe linked to frozen berries and another 2012 outbreak in British Columbia related to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt. However, there is no evidence at this time that these outbreaks are related to the current U.S. outbreak.
According to the label, the “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” frozen berry and pomegranate mix associated with illness contained products originating from the U.S., Argentina, Chile, and Turkey.