Hepatitis alert: State warns about frozen berries sold at Costco here

OLYMPIA -- The Washington State Department of Health said Monday that a brand of frozen berries sold by Costco and linked to an outbreak of hepatitis A was sold at stores in this state and it urged Costco shoppers who bought the product to get checked.

“An outbreak linked to ‘Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend’ frozen berries has caused 30 cases of hepatitis A in five states,” the department said in a news release. “There have been no reported illnesses in Washington linked to these berries, but they were sold in Costco stores throughout the state.

“The Washington State Department of Health advises against eating these berries; discard any remaining product from your freezers. Even if some of the product has been eaten without anyone in your home becoming ill, the rest of the product should be discarded.

“Contact your health care provider right away if you have eaten these berries and develop yellow eyes or skin, abdominal pain, diarrhea, pale stools, or dark urine. Symptoms can start up to seven weeks from the time of exposure,” the department said.

It added that if you consumed this product in the past two weeks and have never been vaccinated for hepatitis A or had the disease, contact your health care provider to find out if you should be vaccinated or receive other treatment. If you have already received the hepatitis A vaccination in the past or had hepatitis A, you are unlikely to become ill with the disease.

People without a health care provider may contact the local health agency in their community. If it’s too late for a hepatitis A shot, be sure to wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet and don’t prepare food for others if you have diarrhea. Follow this advice even if you get the vaccine in time. The latest information about the national hepatitis A outbreak is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

The Department of Health website (www.doh.wa.gov) is your source for a healthy dose of information.