The outbreak associated with Virginia-area Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations continues to grow. Over 115 people now have confirmed cases of hepatitis A virus linked to the outbreak. This is the second outbreak of Hepatitis A virus linked to imported fruits in just three years.
117 Confirmed Infected in Hepatitis A Strawberry Smoothie Outbreak; Virginia Particularly Hard-Hit
Almost all people infected in the outbreak report drinking a smoothie from Tropical Smoothie Cafe containing strawberries prior to becoming ill. This allowed epidemiologists to trace to outbreak to strawberries used by the restaurant. The company ceased using those strawberries, imported from Egypt, and switched to another source.
At this time, officials confirm 117 cases of hepatitis A linked to the outbreak. People with hepatitis A have been reported from seven states, including Maryland (14 cases), New York (1 case), Oregon (1 case), Virginia (94 cases), West Virginia (5 cases), and Wisconsin (1 case).
At this time, at least 39 cases required hospitalization, though fortunately no deaths have been reported.
In Virginia, approximately “38% of the residents, for whom information is available, have been hospitalized for their illness. The 94 ill residents range in age from 14-70. Onsets of illness for the 94 cases range from early May through September. The count by region is: 55 Northern, 13 Northwest, 15 Eastern, 11 Central, 0 Southwest.”
Repeat Offender: Imported Fruits Responsible for Multiple Hepatitis A Outbreaks
Genetic tests revealed that the illnesses involved in the outbreak involve a strain of hepatitis A associated with previous outbreaks from frozen strawberries in Egypt. In addition, the same strain – 1B – also caused a hepatitis A outbreak in 2013 linked to pomegranate arils incorporated into an antioxidant berry blend and sold at Costco.
In the 2013 outbreak linked to Townsend Organic Antioxidant Blend containing hepatitis A virus-contaminated pomegranate arils, 165 people in 10 different states contracted the outbreak strain of the virus. Eight of the confirmed cases constituted secondary cases, or confirmed cases acquired with direct contact from a person initially infected by consuming the berry blend.
The pomegranate arils included in that organic berry blend originated in Turkey, and were sold by a company named Goknur. They were imported and purchased by US companies into the berry blend, which was then sold at Costco.
In that outbreak, 44% of people were hospitalized. Ron Simon & Associates represented over 40 people infected in that outbreak, including the family of an individual who died as a result of complications from her illness.
If you or a family member became ill have been diagnosed with Hepatitis A and you would like to explore pursuing a legal claim, contact a seasoned food poisoning attorney at Ron Simon & Associates for a free case evaluation by calling 1-888-335-4901 or filling out our free case evaluation form. Attorneys at Ron Simon & Associates have represented victims in past hepatitis A outbreaks nationwide as well as victims of the current Tropical Smoothie Cafe outbreak.