About 50% of the victims were hospitalized. Illness onset dates range from early May to mid-August, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
More cases could be reported over the next month. It takes up to 6 weeks for symptoms to appear after exposure.
The CDC believes strawberries from Egypt caused the outbreak. Tropical Smoothie Café stopped using the strawberries on August 9.
The same strain of hepatitis A also caused two outbreaks in Europe a few years ago due to strawberries from Egypt and Morocco.
A law firm representing several victims has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of everyone who was exposed and got a vaccine, blood test, or other medical treatment.
Individual lawsuits have also been filed by people who were actually diagnosed with hepatitis A, including one man who was hospitalized for three days.
Infection with hepatitis A can be prevented if the vaccine or Immune Globulin (IG) is given within two weeks of exposure. People who have been vaccinated or infected in the past are not at risk.
Hepatitis A is a virus that causes liver inflammation. It spreads by the “fecal-to-oral” route of transmission. Major outbreaks of food poisoning can occur when sewage-contaminated water is sprayed on raw food.
The symptoms of infection can occur anywhere from 15-50 days after exposure. Most people are ill for 2-3 months, but about 10% of victims are sick for 6 months. The symptoms may include:
- Low fever
- Nausea and vomiting
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Dark urine, clay-colored stools
- Joint or muscle aches
Source: Virginia Department of Health
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