WASHINGTON - The number of people affected by the hepatitis A outbreak linked to smoothies consumed at Tropical Smoothie Café has increased to 55, the Virginia Department of Health said on Wednesday.
Customers of the nationwide smoothie chain were warned by Virginia’s health department last month that the confirmed hepatitis A cases have been traced to potentially contaminated frozen strawberries imported from Egypt that were used at Tropical Smoothie Café stores in Virginia. The business, which has 96 stores in the state, voluntarily pulled those strawberries from all of its stores after being notified by the health department.
The health department said that nearly half of the people diagnosed with the virus have been hospitalized due to their illness and the onset of their illness ranged from early May through August.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, there have been 28 confirmed cases in Northern Virginia. Last Friday, health officials said an employee at a Tropical Smoothie Café store in Gainesville, Virginia was diagnosed with the virus.
Hepatitis A can cause inflammation of the liver and symptoms such as jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light-colored stools can develop 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus. The virus can be obtained through direct contact with another person who has been infected or by consuming food or drink contaminated by the virus. Anyone who has not been vaccinated for hepatitis A may be susceptible to the virus.