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Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen organic berry blend

A multistate outbreak of Hepatitis A apparently associated with a frozen organic berry blend made in Oregon has infected at least one Nevada resident with the disease, according to officials with the Southern Nevada Health District.

Patricia Rowley, a disease surveillance manager at the health district, said Friday it appears that Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend, which she said has only been found at Costco stores, has sickened people in five states: Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

“So far we’ve only been able to identify one person in Nevada,” said Rowley, who added that health investigators will comb records statewide from the past month to see if there have been other reports of people who have symptoms of the disease, which include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and a pale stool.

The disease can be mild, lasting just a few weeks, or can progress to a severe illness lasting several months.

Hepatitis A is generally spread when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from contact with food or drinks or objects contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected person.

On Friday, the FDA reported 30 people have come down with the contagious liver disease after eating the frozen blend containing pomegranate seed mix.

Rowley said if people have the frozen concoction still in their refrigerators “they should throw it out.”

If people have eaten it within the past month and have not been vaccinated for hepatitis A, Rowley said they should “strongly consider getting vaccinated.” A vaccination can prevent illness if given within two weeks of exposure to the contaminated product.

Rowley said more information about the outbreak will be available on the health district’s website, www. snhd.info.

Contact reporter Paul Harasim at pharasim@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908.

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