WASHINGTON - The number of hepatitis A cases connected with Tropical Smoothie Cafe continues to rise. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 70 people from seven different states have been reported getting the virus. Virginia was the hardest hit with 55 cases.
The fallout continues from an outbreak that officials believe began back in May. Health officials said the hepatitis A came from frozen strawberries shipped to the nationwide smoothie chain from Egypt.
After being informed about the possible link to the strawberries, Tropical Smoothie Cafe said it has voluntarily pulled the Egyptian-sourced fruit and switched suppliers for all of its stores.
Hepatitis A affects the liver and many people who drank the smoothies and became ill reported abdominal pain, diarrhea and other symptoms can include yellow eyes or skin.
FOX 5 spoke with Genise Clark, a Virginia Beach woman who became really sick with hepatitis A after drinking several smoothies.
“I went to Tropical Smoothie [Café] almost every other day,” she said. “I really enjoyed them. I started getting sick to my stomach and I really wasn't sure why. I took over-the-counter medicine and then I lost my appetite, so I started drinking smoothies a lot more because I wasn’t able to eat. I was trying to get some type of nourishment from the fruit. Actually, I was drinking the smoothies before, during and after the outbreak.”
Needless to say the smoothies no longer sound appetizing to Clark right now. She is furious that Tropical Smoothie Cafe was outsourcing its strawberries from Egypt in the first place. She said she plans to take Tropical Smoothie Cafe to court over this.