Hepatitis A Outbreak linked to Strawberries
June 6, 2022
Are Strawberries Linked to a Hepatitis A Outbreak?
Just when you thought it was safe to eat strawberries. The FDA and CDC are investigating a recent series of Hepatitis A cases in the United States and Canada that have been linked to several brands of organic strawberries. So far, the outbreak has been linked to 17 cases and 12 hospitalizations. Strawberries sold by a number of retailers including Walmart, Safeway, Kroger, Aldi, and Trader Joe’s during the months of March and April 2022 have been subject to a recall. It has been advised that anyone who purchased fresh organic strawberries during that time check the brand and store they were purchased at to see if there was a risk of contamination. Anyone who still has berries purchased during this time period, including fresh berries that were frozen, and is unsure if they are safe is advised to just throw them away as a precaution.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. Hep A is typically spread through contaminated food or drinking water. The virus is found in the feces of a person who is infected with the virus. If an infected person is not properly washing their hands, food that is handled or prepared by that person can easily spread the infection to others. Common symptoms of Hep A include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, dark urine, pale-colored stool, and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin.) While most people with Hepatitis A recover and suffer no long-term complications, some cases result in serious illness and hospitalization. Rare but serious complications can include liver failure and even death. Many people in the US are vaccinated against Hep A and those who contract the illness and recover often have natural immunity.
How to test for Hepatitis A
It may take up to 15-20 days after consuming contaminated food or beverages for symptoms of hepatitis A to develop. Common Hep A symptoms are common to other disorders so people who are infected may not realize the source of their illness. A person with a hep A infection can spread the virus to others even if they are asymptomatic. It is common for hep A infections to spread through households and places where large groups of people live in proximity such as nursing homes and correctional facilities. Blood testing for Hep A can help identify when someone is infected and avoid passing it to other people. Testing looks for antibodies that the body develops in response to the virus. An IgM antibody test looks for antibodies that develop within 4 weeks of infection and usually persist for 2-6 months. A positive IgM test along with common symptoms of Hep A may indicate a person who is infected and could spread the virus to others. If you suspect you have recently contracted Hepatitis A, it is important to take precautions such as frequently and thoroughly washing your hands, especially after using the bathroom, and sterilizing any utensils or items that may be handled by other people. A total antibody test for hepatitis A is also available. This test looks for a combination of both IgM and IgG antibodies. IgG antibodies start to develop as IgM antibodies begin to decrease. The presence of IgG antibodies usually indicates that a person has been infected or vaccinated in the past and is protected from further infection. A total antibody test does not differentiate between the 2 types of antibodies so results should be interpreted by considering recent symptoms or medical history.
Can I get a quick Hepatitis A test near me?
If you are concerned about a possible exposure or infection with hepatitis A, getting a blood test is a quick, easy way to see if your health may be at risk. Request A Test offers lab testing for hep A that anyone can order. There’s no need to schedule a doctor’s visit. Just order your test and go to the lab. We work with 2 of the largest lab companies in the US so you can be confident that you are getting the same high-quality testing used by doctors and hospitals across the country. With over 4,000 draw sites, finding a lab in your area is no problem. Most orders are processed the same day they are submitted so you can get into a lab fast. Test results usually take as little as one business day so you can get answers with minimal wait. In addition to Hep A, Request A Test offers hundreds of other lab tests for, other forms of hepatitis, STDs, immunity, general health, and more. Just visit us online and call 1-888-732-2348 to get started.
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