BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
CLEARFIELD — Tainted berries sold at Costco have sickened two Davis County residents with hepatitis A reported in Utah this week are in Davis County residents.
The local cases, which make up half of those found in Utah so far, are being investigated by Davis County Health Department staffers. The tainted berries were sold at all 10 Costco stores in the state.
Health department spokesman Bob Ballew declined to identify the victims or even what area of the county they live in, citing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) law, which guarantees patient’s privacy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified at least 49 cases of hepatitis A since mid-March, when it linked the disease to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend. The frozen berry blend contains cherries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, red raspberries and strawberries.
In addition to the four Utah cases, hepatitis A has been reported in Hawaii, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. Costco has removed the product from its shelves and is notifying shoppers who purchased the berries since late February 2013.
County health officials urge people to check their freezers for this product.
“The berries should be returned to the place of purchase or discarded immediately, regardless of when they were purchased.” Even if some of the berries have been eaten without anyone becoming ill, the rest should be discarded.
According to a Townsend Farms news release, the product was sold at Costco warehouse stores under the name Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, 3 lb. bag and UPC 0 78414 404448.Љ The recalled codes are located on the back of the package with the words “BEST BY” followed by the code T012415 sequentially through T053115, followed by a letter. All of these letter designations are included in this recall for the lot codes listed above.
If you have eaten the berries within the last two weeks and have never received hepatitis A vaccine, contact your health care provider to find out if you should be vaccinated or receive immune globulin (IG).
Anyone who has received two doses of hepatitis A vaccine or has been previously diagnosed by a physician with hepatitis A is unlikely to become ill and does not need additional vaccine.
Davis County residents who do not have a health care provider should contact the Davis County Health Department at 801-525-5200 about hepatitis A vaccine recommendations.
Hepatitis A is a viral illness that attacks the liver. People usually get the disease from consuming a contaminated food or by having close contact with someone who is infected, and most recover without medical help.
Symptoms of hepatitis A appear two-to-six weeks after exposure and include jaundice, mild fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, pale stools, and dark urine.
The illness typically lasts one to two weeks and can range from mild symptoms to severe illness requiring hospitalization. Hepatitis A can be spread from person-to-person so it is important that persons who suspect they have hepatitis A not to go to work, especially if they work in food service, health care, or child care.
More information about this outbreak can be found on the CDC and FDA websites at cdc.gov/hepatitis/Outbreaks/2013/A1b-03-31/index.html or fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Outbreaks/ucm354698.htm or by calling the Davis County Health Department at (801) 525-5200.