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Hepatitis A Leads to Several Outbreaks Throughout the World

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Hepatitis A Leads to Several Outbreaks Throughout the World

2019-11-23 01:33:271 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

By Chanel Adams,  Photo source: CDC/Betty Partin

A hepatitis A outbreak has led to 11 people sick in Indiana, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. This latest outbreak has been tied to non-organic blackberries that were sold at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market grocery stores in those states, according to U.S. health officials. The last time that a hepatitis A outbreak too place was on Nov. 5, 2019. Six people were sent to the hospital during that time.

Investigators have concluded that the blackberries came from a distribution center that shipped them to Fresh Thymes Farmers Market in 11 states, according to a WebMD report. Consumers have been informed not to eat any non-organic blackberries that were purchased at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market between Sept. 9-30 in the past two weeks. Those who haven’t been vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus (HAV) are advised to talk to their healthcare provider as soon as possible to find out if they will require post exposure prophylaxis (PEP), according to the FDA.

PEP is for individuals who have been exposed to HAV in the past two weeks. Those who received the hepatitis A vaccination or have been exposed to the hepatitis A infection previously don’t need PEP. All others should contact their healthcare provider if they feel they have become ill from eating these blackberries, or if they have consumed these blackberries in the past two weeks, according to the FDA.

This latest news comes after a woman has contracted hepatitis A from consuming pomegranate seeds in Australia. According to a report via Independent, the 64-year-wold woman’s death took place in southern Australia, which is a “rare and tragic case,” according to the state chief medical officer. Back in April, health officials announced a nationwide recall of Creative Gourmet’s frozen pomegranate arils, which is the outgrowth of pomegranate seeds. This product has already been linked to 24 cases of hepatitis A.

The 2,000 packets of the pomegranate arils, which are grown and originated in Egypt, were sold by an Australian-based company. Health officials said that fresh and locally grown pomegranate products were not affected in the outbreak.

"The majority of people infected with hepatitis A recover fully and the woman's death is the only death linked to this recalled product nationally to date," South Australia's chief medical officer, Paddy Phillips, said.

"While we expect most people would have disposed of the recalled product, we urge everyone to double-check freezers and remove any affected products."

According to Phillips, it can take between 15 and 50 days to fully develop the symptoms of hepatitis A. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, and yellowing of the skin. There have been widespread outbreaks of the hepatitis A infection throughout the world. Most people assume that it’s contracted through contaminated food and water. But here in the U.S., the virus can be spread from person to person, which is also happening in the latest outbreaks.

Vaccinations can help people who are at risk stop the spreading of the infection. But people shouldn’t be the only ones on high alert about the hepatitis A outbreak. There are some things that physicians should do to prevent or control the outbreaks. First, it’s important for physicians to know who’s the most at risk.

There has been a call for physicians to screen patients who are the highest at risk at of acquiring or developing the hepatitis A virus. People who fall under the high-risk category for hepatitis A during these recent outbreaks are those who:

  • Are experience housing troubles or homelessness.
  • Are incarcerated, who were recently incarcerated.
  • Carry the hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis.
  • The LGBTQ community.
  • Use illicit drugs via injection or non-injection.

The American Medical Association rolled out its 2019 recommended immunization schedule from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The list included homelessness as a factor for routine vaccinations following a hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego. The outbreak took place between the years of 2017-2018 in which 600 people were infected and 20 died.

San Diego health officials noted that homelessness was associated with these recent outbreaks. Homeless individuals were two or three times at risk of hepatitis A infection. This area also had two to four times higher odds of spreading the hepatitis A virus. This deadly virus has led to hospitalizations and death. With this information in mind, everyone should be mindful about the recent hepatitis A outbreaks taking place globally, and should talk to their healthcare provider for more information.

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