East Hawaii News

Big Island Resident has Hepatitis A; Link Being Investigated

June 10, 2013, 4:57 PM HST
* Updated June 11, 9:12 PM
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State health officials say a Big Island resident has become the fifth Hawaii resident who has come down with hepatitis A after consuming frozen berries sold by Costco.

Previously, three residents on Oahu and one on Kauai had come down with the liver disease after consuming Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend berry mix.

However, the Big Island man had eaten a different Townsend Farm product, not the organic berry mix, Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist with the Department of Health today told Big Island Now.

“We are investigating but have not confirmed him as being part of the latest outbreak,” she said.

Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. DOH photo.

Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. DOH photo.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today said the Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend has been implicated in outbreaks of hepatitis A in eight states – up from six last week – and the Oregon-based company  issued a recall notice on June 4.

Townsend Farms issued a press release that said it suspected that the hepatitis A outbreak may be related to the berry blend’s pomegranate seeds which were processed in Turkey.

 The CDC said 87 cases have been linked to the product.

The onset of the illnesses ranges from March 16 to June 1, the CDC said. Those who became ill range in age from 2 to 84.

Thirty-six of those who were afflicted, about 53%, required hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.

Costco is reportedly offering to pay for a hepatitis A vaccination for any of its customers who bought the organic berry mix.

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