August 30, 2016 — Health officials in Virginia have confirmed 44 cases of hepatitis A in an outbreak linked to frozen strawberries used at Tropical Smoothie Café.
All of the victims had a smoothie at the café before becoming ill. The earliest illnesses were reported in May and approximately 50% of the victims were hospitalized, according to the outbreak investigation.
A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of everyone who ate at Tropical Smoothie Café during the outbreak and got a vaccine, blood test, or other medical treatment.
The class action was filed by Laura Pyka, a woman from Virginia who ate at the café in July and August 2016. After learning she was exposed to hepatitis A, she received a vaccine to prevent infection.
According to the complaint:
“Genetic testing shows the illnesses were caused by a strain of hepatitis A that has been associated with past outbreaks due to frozen strawberries from Egypt.”
All of the potentially contaminated frozen strawberries were removed from Tropical Smoothie Café no later than August 9. Because hepatitis A takes up to 6 weeks to cause symptoms, new cases may not be reported yet.
The class does not include people who actually developed infections. Those cases will likely be handled individually. One lawsuit was filed by Constantinos Raptis, a man who was hospitalized for three days.
Hepatitis A is a virus that spreads through the “fecal-to-oral” route of transmission. It can cause symptoms anywhere from 15 to 50 days after exposure, and the illness lasts up to 6 months.
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