Fruit smoothies are delicious but get this: the latest news might hold you back from ordering one in the coming weeks.
An outbreak of hepatitis A has been linked to frozen strawberries in smoothies served at the restaurant franchise Tropical Smoothie Cafe.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that the outbreak is limited to Virginia and neighboring states.
Right now, it encompasses 9 states including AR, CA, MD, NC, NY, OR, VA, WI and WV.
Why has it occurred and how is it spreading? Through a bit of sleuthing, authorities have concluded that the illness is coming from contaminated fruit imported from Egypt by the franchise.
The restaurant chain says it stopped importing the victimizing fruit from Egypt back in August of 2016, but unfortunately some clientele have already fallen ill.
As of October 20, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 134 people with hepatitis A are linked to the outbreak.
The Center says that, ominously, nearly all the people who have fallen ill reported drinking a smoothie from Tropical Smoothie Café with strawberries in it, in the month before their sickness.
So far, 52 people have been hospitalized due to complications. And authorities expect that number to rise in the coming days and weeks.
The thing is, people with hepatitis A can be sick but not show any symptoms for 15 to even 50(!) days.
Think you have it? The symptoms of hepatitis A in adults include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool.
If you think you may have been infected, contact a health professional immediately to have a blood test done. No specific drugs exist to treat hepatitis A, but it’s good to know if you are ill with it or not, as getting a lot of rest will help your body clear the illness on its own and other precautions should be taken.
One of the most important aspects of taking care during hepatitis A is giving your organs a rest. The sickness is a contagious liver disease and so it’s advised you avoid medications when possible, and abstain from ingesting alcohol, to let your body heal.
It’s also important that people with hepatitis A don’t prepare food for others or engage in sexual activity. This can spread the illness.
Patients need to wash their hands vigorously with soap and hot water after using the toilet.
(Hepatitis A is spread though contact with contaminated fecal matter, and ingesting even microscopic amounts can make you sick.)
As a refresher, hepatitis A is a sickness that is a contagious disease resulting from infection with the Hepatitis A virus (HAV).
If you catch it, you can be sick from a few weeks to several months and the severity of the illness can vary greatly from person to person.
How can you protect yourself? Besides washing your hands and cleaning your environment often, you can get vaccinated for hepatitis A.
Other “good-to-know” information is the fact that water, shellfish, berries and salads are the most frequent foodborne sources of the virus, so perhaps keep this in mind when you’re eating at a restaurant.
The FDA says that it will continue to investigate the outbreak situation as it evolves. The agency has been in touch with health authorities in Egypt, and is working to get to the bottom of things.
In the meantime, it might be good to wash up and make some smoothies at home.