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Ventura County Reports First Frozen Berry-Related Case Of Hepatitis A

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CBS Los Angeles (con't)

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VENTURA (CBSLA.com) — Ventura health officials Wednesday confirmed the county’s first documented case of hepatitis A associated with a frozen berry blend sold at Costco.

The affected male used Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries while preparing a smoothie. He has been ill at home for about 2 weeks and has not required hospitalization, the health department said.

The California Department of Public Health says at least six other people from Riverside, Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino and Humbolt counties have been affected by the product and required hospitalization.

On Monday, a Southland woman sued Costco after she allegedly contracted the disease from berries she purchased at the warehouse chain’s Lakewood store. She remains hospitalized with severe liver inflammation in Long Beach.

At least 40 cases nationwide are being investigated. No fatalities have been reported.

Symptoms of hepatitis A virus infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes). Symptoms develop two to six weeks after consuming contaminated food or drink and can last from one week to several months.

People who are immune to hepatitis A are not at risk for getting this infection after exposure to the berry mixture product.

Consuming cooked or baked Townsend Farms frozen berries will have inactivated the hepatitis A virus and will not make someone ill, Ventura County officials said.

Costco has removed the Townsend Farms product from store shelves as of May 30 and is in the process of notifying customers who have purchased the product.

RELATED STORY: Woman Sues Costco After Allegedly Contracting Hepatitis A From Store’s Frozen Berries

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