Tropical Smoothie Cafe pulled all Egyptian strawberries ― a fraction of its overall strawberry inventory ― about 10 days ago, after the Virginia Department of Health linked the cafes to the hepatitis A outbreak. The people ranged in age from 14 to 68; almost half sought hospital care. The other states reporting cases are Maryland (4), West Virginia (4), North Carolina (1), OR (1) and Wisconsin (1). An additional seven people in Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, and Wisconsin have been infected.
The smoothies linked to Hepatitis A contained frozen strawberries imported from Egypt.
An estimated 55 people people have gotten sick, with the majority of those cases in Virginia, where the outbreak originated.
The virus that causes liver inflammation has an incubation period of 15 to 50 days.
Since the incubation period for hepatitis A is 15 to 50 days, there remains the possibility that more cases may arise from people who consumed potentially tainted strawberries before August 8, according to the statement. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and usually do not last more than two months. The strawberries were imported by the company from Egypt. The Virginia Department of Health said a total of 55 residents have tested positive for hepatitis A.
Luis Perez, an assistant general manager for the Tropical Smoothie location in West Manchester, said his location has strawberries sourced from New Mexico, and they didn't have to remove any strawberries. Tropical Smoothie Cafe now boasts more than 500 franchise locations across the United States.
"I was a little on edge about it", said Marc Anthony Moseley. Recently some strawberries may have made their way into the supply chain that could challenge that concept.
Tropical Smoothie CEO Mike Rotondo apologized to customers in a statement on YouTube and the company website. "Fortunately, a vaccine to prevent against hepatitis A is available", he said. He added that the use of Egyptian strawberries have been discontinued not just in Virginia but at stores in every location. "Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our guests and crew members, and we will continue to cooperate with the health authorities".
Hepatitis A is highly contagious, but according to the Centers for Disease Control it doesn't result in chronic infection.
The infection does not always cause symptoms, but can cause fever, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, abdominal pain, dark urine or jaundice. Those who suspect they might have contracted the virus have been encouraged to stay home from work-especially if they work in the food services-and, just to be safe, steer clear of fruity blended drinks for the time being.