An outbreak of hepatitis A has been linked to fresh blackberries sold at Woodman’s Food Market stores in Wisconsin and Illinois.
A total of 18 cases of hepatitis A — none yet in La Crosse County — have been linked to blackberries sold by two grocery chains in six states. Five of those cases were in Wisconsin, and 10 have resulted in hospitalization.
Consumers should discard blackberries purchased from Woodman’s Food Market between Sept. 9-30. The La Crosse County Health Department recommends checking your freezer for berries and throwing away any purchased from Woodman’s during September.
If you have eaten such blackberries in the past 14 days and are not vaccinated against hepatitis A, county officials suggest contacting your local health department or health care provider to discuss getting postexposure prophylaxis.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection found in the stool and blood of people who are infected. Infection is spread when someone ingests the virus, either through contaminated food or drink or through close contact with an infected person.
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Symptoms include yellow skin or eyes, loss of appetite, upset stomach, vomiting, fever, dark urine or light stool, joint pain, diarrhea and fatigue. Symptoms usually appear two to seven weeks after exposure.
In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause liver failure and even death, particularly in older people or those with serious health issues.
The risk of contracting hepatitis A is substantially lower for those who are vaccinated against it; however, the vaccine was not introduced until 1996, so some people may not be vaccinated.
For more information, contact the La Crosse County Health Department at 608-785-9723 or visit https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/outbreaks/index.htm.