Public Health Notice - Outbreak of Hepatitis A infections; consumers advised not to eat Nature's Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend frozen fruit

This notice has been updated to include additional information about the recalled product, and to provide a revised case count update of Hepatitis A cases based on recent changes in the investigation.

OTTAWA, April 22, 2016 /CNW/ - 

Why you should take note?

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Hepatitis Ainfections in three provinces linked to the frozen fruit product: Nature's Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a food recall warning advising Canadians of the recall of the frozen fruit product that has been distributed in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Public Health Agency of Canada advises Canadians not to consume the frozen fruit product Nature's Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend sold exclusively at Costco warehouse locations in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.  Costco Canada has indicated that some Costco locations did provide free food samples of the recalled product in recent weeks. More information is available on the Costco Canada website. If you suspect you have been exposed to the recalled product, or have symptoms consistent for Hepatitis A, see your health care provider immediately. Vaccination can prevent the onset of symptoms if given within two weeks of exposure. Canadians who have been previously vaccinated against Hepatitis A do not need to be vaccinated again, as the Hepatitis A vaccination provides lifetime immunity.

The overall risk to Canadians is low. Hepatitis A is a disease that can cause inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. You can get the Hepatitis A virus by eating contaminated food or water or through contact with an infected person's stool. Adequate vaccination can protect against the Hepatitis A virus.

Investigation Summary

Currently, there are eleven cases of Hepatitis A in three provinces related to this outbreak: Ontario (8), Quebec (2), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). Individuals became sick in February and March of this year. The majority of the individuals who became ill have reported eating the recalled product. The majority of cases (73%) are male, with an average age of 43 years. Four cases have been hospitalized. The number of cases of Hepatitis A linked to this outbreak has decreased since the previous update as recent laboratory evidence has excluded some cases of Hepatitis A from the investigation.

Who is most at risk?

Hepatitis A infections can occur among people of all ages; however, although rare, the severity of illness increases with age. Those with underlying liver disease are also at increased risk for severe illness.

What you should do to protect your health?

If you have Nature's Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend frozen fruit in your home, do not eat this product. For more information on this product including stores that these products were sold at, please read the recall notice.

If you are unsure whether a frozen fruit product you have in your home is part of the food recall warning, do not consume it. Secure the product in a plastic bag, throw it out and wash your hands with warm soapy water.

If you suspect you have been exposed to the recalled product, or have symptoms consistent for Hepatitis A, see your health care provider immediately. Vaccination can prevent the onset of symptoms if given within two weeks of exposure. Costco Canada is offering free Hepatitis A vaccination for anyone who has been affected by the product recall. For more information on Costco's actions please consult their website.

If you have been exposed to Hepatitis A it is possible to spread the virus to other people before you experience any symptoms. For these reasons, if you think you have been exposed to the virus, you can help prevent the spread of the hepatitis A virus by:

  • washing your hands with soap and water before and after preparing and serving food and drinks;
  • washing your hands with soap and water after using the washroom or changing diapers;
  • sanitizing countertops, cutting boards and utensils before and after preparing food.

If you have been diagnosed with Hepatitis A, do not prepare or serve food and drinks to others. 

Symptoms

People infected with Hepatitis A can have a wide range of symptoms. Some do not get sick at all, though they can still spread the infection to others. Others may experience symptoms including fatigue and jaundice.

Most people with Hepatitis A develop the following symptoms two to seven weeks after being infected with the virus:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach cramps
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • dark urine
  • fatigue

Symptoms are usually mild, and the illness usually lasts one to two weeks. Although severe cases can last several months, most people recover without treatment. It is rare for healthy adults to die from Hepatitis A, and the illness does not become chronic.

There is an approved vaccine for Hepatitis A. If you are immune to the Hepatitis A (because you already had the virus or you have been vaccinated), this will last your entire life.

What the Government of Canada is doing

The Government of Canada is committed to food safety. The Public Health Agency of Canada is leading the human health investigation of this outbreak and is in regular contact with its federal and provincial partners to monitor and take collaborative steps to address the outbreak.

Health Canada provides food-related health risk assessments to determine if the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) conducts food safety investigations into the possible food source of an outbreak.

The Government of Canada will continue to update Canadians if new information related to this investigation becomes available.

Additional information

 

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

For further information: Media Contact: Public Health Agency of Canada, Media Relations, (613) 957-2983; Public Inquiries: Call toll-free: 1-866-225-0709, Email: info@hc-sc.gc.ca

RELATED LINKS
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

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