As the number of cases in an ongoing outbreak of Hepatitis A linked to drinks from Tropical Smoothie Cafe rose in recent days, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) became involved in the outbreak investigation.
The CDC issued an outbreak alert regarding the “multistate outbreak of hepatitis A linked to frozen strawberries.”
85 Ill, At Least 32 Hospitalized due to Hep A-Contaminated Tropical Smoothie Cafe Drinks
According to the CDC release, 70 ill individuals have fallen ill as a result of consuming smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Cafe. Those sickened by the smoothies are from 7 states, including Virginia (55 cases), Maryland (6 cases), West Virginia (5 cases), New York, Wisconsin and Oregon. Of the 70 ill individuals, 32 have been hospitalized. To date, no deaths have been reported.
The number has since risen, as the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported that as of 12:00 pm today that 70 “Virginia residents who had tested positive for hepatitis A reported consuming a smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Cafe prior to becoming ill.” The statement does not account for the ill individuals in other states, meaning that the current case count likely stands at 85 ill.
Investigation by the CDC, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and several states continue investigation into the outbreak. At this point, strawberries used in smoothies produced at Tropical Smoothie Cafes in a limited geographical area have been identified as the likely source of the outbreak.
The frozen strawberries used in the smoothies were imported from Egypt. On August 8th, Tropical Smoothie Cafe indicated that they had removed the Egyptian frozen strawberries from their restaurant locations in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and one other state and had switched to an alternate strawberry supplier. According to the CDC, “out of an abundance of caution, Tropical Smoothie Cafe has since switched to another supplier for all restaurants nationwide.”
According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), affected smoothies would have been consumed before August 9, 2016. In Virginia, the 70 ill residents range from 14-68 years of age. The VDH states that the count by region is “39 Northern [Virginia], 10 Northwest, 14 Eastern, 7 Central, 0 Southwest.”
Given the increased count in Virginia, the current number ill in the ongoing outbreak stands at 85.
In addition, an employee at one of the restaurant locations has now been diagnosed with Hepatitis A virus as well. According to the VDH, “an employee at the Tropical Smoothie Café Restaurant at 8069 Stonewall Shops Square in Gainesville, Virginia, has been diagnosed with hepatitis A. As a result, persons eating at this restaurant from July 28, 2016 through August 18, 2016 may have been exposed to hepatitis A. Tropical Smoothie Café notified the Virginia Department of Health about the case and has been complying fully with all requests.”
At this time, the CDC does “not have information to suggest that there is an ongoing risk of hepatitis A virus infection at Tropical Smoothie Cafes.” The CDC is “not yet aware of any other restaurants or retailers that may have received frozen strawberries linked to this outbreak. If this information changes, the CDC will update the public immediately.”
Note: This outbreak has led to numerous Hepatitis A lawsuits and claims.
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 an 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.