Fresh Thyme Blackberries Hepatitis A Outbreak
As of December 10, 2019, a total of 18 outbreak-associated cases of hepatitis A were reported from 6 states.
Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 8, 2019, to November 15, 2019. Ill people range in age from 14 to 73 years, with a median age of 50. Sixty-seven percent of ill people are female. Of 17 people with available information, 10 (59%) were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes for symptoms to appear after exposure (average 4 weeks) and the time it takes between when someone becomes ill and when the illness is reported.
Traceback information to date shows that the berries came from a distribution center that ships fresh berries to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in 11 states: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Federal health officials said a hepatitis A outbreak possibly linked to blackberries sold at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market may also be linked to Woodman’s Market.
The CDC and FDA are investigating the outbreak potentially linked to blackberries purchased between Sept. 9 and Sept. 30 from these two Midwest retailers.
As of Tuesday, Dec. 10, the CDC reported 18 outbreak-associated cases of hepatitis A in six states, including Wisconsin.
Illnesses started on dates ranging from Oct. 8 through Nov. 15, 2019. CDC officials said 10 people had been hospitalized as of Dec. 10. No deaths had been reported.
In interviews, 100% of the ill reported eating fresh blackberries, and 16 purchased them from either Fresh Thyme or Woodman’s Market.
If you purchased fresh blackberries from Fresh Thyme or Woodman’s between Sept. 9 and 30, you should check your freezer for these blackberries. If you froze them to eat later, do not eat them. Throw away any remaining blackberries.
If you have eaten these blackberries, purchased fresh and later frozen, within the last 14 days and are not vaccinated against hepatitis A, contact your local health department or healthcare provider to discuss getting post exposure prophylaxis (hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin). Getting post exposure prophylaxis within 14 days of exposure can help prevent illness.
CDC officials noted efforts to identify suppliers of the blackberries causing the illness is ongoing.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The hepatitis A virus is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected. The hepatitis A virus is spread when someone ingests the virus, usually through close personal contact with an infected person or from eating contaminated food or drink. Hepatitis A can be prevented with a vaccine, which is recommended for all children at age one and adults at risk.
This outbreak investigation is ongoing, and the CDC will update the public when more information becomes available.
The FDA is urging consumers to not eat any fresh conventional blackberries if purchased between September 9 and September 30, 2019, from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in the 11 states mentioned above. People who purchased the fresh blackberries and then froze those berries for later consumption should not eat these berries. They should be thrown away.
If consumers purchased fresh conventional blackberries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in the 11 states listed above between September 9-30, ate those berries in the last two weeks, and have not been vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus (HAV), they should consult with their healthcare professional to determine whether post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is indicated. PEP is recommended for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to HAV in the last two weeks. Those with evidence of previous hepatitis A vaccination or previous hepatitis A infection do not require PEP.
Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may have become ill from eating these blackberries, or if you believe that you have eaten these berries in the last two weeks.