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Alert! Strawberry Smoothie Causes Hepatitis A Outbreak in Virginia

Aug 29, 2016 04:54 AM EDT

Officials from the health department in Virgina are investigating 35 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A linked to frozen strawberries from Egypt used by Tropical Smoothie Café franchises in the state.

According to a report from AOL News, 14 of the confirmed cases came from Northern Virginia, five from Northwest, six from Central and 10 from Eastern Virginia. Consumers who have ordered smoothies with frozen strawberries served at Tropical Smoothie Café on Aug. 5 to 8 are advised to have themselves vaccinated or take an immune globulin to prevent acquiring Hepatitis A.

Just recently, the Virginia Department of Health has diagnosed a man working at Tropical Smoothie Café's branch in Stonewall Square, Gainesville, with Hepatitis A. The infected employee became sick in late July but did not notify his employers.

Due to the diagnosis, the health department issued an advisory, urging people who ate at the Gainesville branch from July 28 to Aug.18 to get a vaccine for the virus.

Owners of the Gainesville branch immediately contacted the health department after finding out about the diagnosis. They also conducted a deep clean of the restaurant.

"We sanitized our cafes, we maintain good safety protocols, we re-certified our employees on food safety handling," said Dennis Drake, owner of the Gainesville store, in a report from NBC Washington. "The items and products that you have continued to get from us over the years -- we'll do all that we can to ensure that the product is safe."

It is still not clear if the sickened employee got his Hepatitis A from the frozen strawberries from Egypt. However, the Tropical Smoothie Café withdrew all the frozen strawberries imported from Egypt and found an alternative source.

Hepatitis A can cause inflammation in the liver. It might take 15 to 50 days before a patient infected with the virus to experience its symptoms, which include jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light colored stool.

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