More cases expected in Australian frozen berry hepatitis A outbreak

Berries are a staple of my diet; I go through about 2 lbs a week of raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. When the fresh berries are too expensive (or don’t look good) I substitute with frozen ones – and often cook them before eating after the multiple noro and hep A outbreaks in the past few years.
According to ABC (the Australian one), another illness in New South Wales has been linked to Nanna’s frozen mixed berries, bringing the number of outbreak cases up to five.
A second case of hepatitis A linked to Nanna’s frozen mixed berries has been confirmed in New South Wales.6099244-3x2-340x227
It follows the identification of three cases in Victoria linked to the same product.
The NSW Health department has issued a warning urging consumers not to eat the product with best-before dates up to and including November 22, 2016.
The department said it was not sure how many others may be affected given the berries are widely distributed and the potential for people to develop the disease in the coming weeks.
Dr Vicky Sheppeard from NSW Health’s Communicable Diseases Branch said there were concerns because hepatitis-A was contagious.
“So far we’ve had two people that have confirmed hepatitis A, that in the weeks to months before they developed hepatitis A had consumed these berries and they’re coming from different parts of the state, so we’re concerned this might be a more widespread problem,” said Dr Sheppeard.
Dr Sheppeard said NSW Health were expecting more cases to arise.
“The incubation period for hepatitis A is between two and seven weeks, so at this stage it’s an early stage of the investigation and we’re still gathering information about how much of the product is in NSW homes but potentially we will be seeing more cases in the coming weeks,” said Dr Sheppeard.
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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.