The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urges you to monitor your strawberries. And no, that’s not a euphemism for anything else. The FDA is talking about real strawberries that seem to have gotten some Americans and Canadians in a bit of trouble. Fresh, organic, branded FreshKampo and HEB strawberries appear to be the culprit behind a hepatitis A outbreak in North America. The outbreak has already infected at least 17 people and hospitalized 12 in the US and infected at least 10 and hospitalized four in Canada. Fortunately, no deaths have been reported so far.
Here’s a tweet from the FDA about the outbreak:
The tweet thread showed where to find these strawberries:
As you can see, Aldi, HEB, Kroger, Safeway, Sprouts Farmers Market, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Weis Markets, and WinCo Foods are just some of the places that have sold these strawberry brands in question. Just because you’ve ever bought FreshKampo or HEB strawberries doesn’t mean you should automatically worry. These now-recalled strawberries in question were sold from March 5, 2022 to April 25, 2022. Of course, it’s not like strawberry refrigerators are forever. Therefore, any strawberries of any kind that have been in your refrigerator since April 25 should go in the trash. Otherwise, you’d be playing some sort of diarrhea roulette as such fruits in the fridge tend to go bad long before a month has passed. However, if you have frozen your strawberries, you may want to check their brand and when you got them. If you’re not sure, it’s better to be safe than strawberry. Throw them away.
Because not everyone infected with the virus develops symptoms, the reported cases likely underestimate the total number of people who have actually been infected with the hepatitis A virus to date. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), four of the confirmed hepatitis A cases in Canada were in Alberta and six in Saskatchewan. The earliest reported case first showed symptoms in the first week of April, while the latest illness did so in the third week of April. Those affected in Canada ranged in age from 10 to 75 years old. Here’s a tweet from PHAC about the outbreak:
Meanwhile, in the US, 15 of the confirmed cases were in California, one in Minnesota and one in North Dakota. The earliest reported case started showing symptoms on March 28, while the latest did so on April 30, 2022.
If you have eaten the suspected strawberries and have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A, contact your doctor as soon as possible. You may benefit from PEP, not a pep talk but post-exposure prophylaxis. PEP consists of receiving a single dose of a single antigenic hepatitis A vaccine or immunoglobulin as soon as possible, within 2 weeks of exposure to the virus. As long as this is done within two weeks, it can still mount an immune response against the virus or wipe it out right away.
This is important to do because hepatitis is something you don’t want to have. As I have previously described for Forbes, “hepatitis” is a broad term for “liver inflammation”, as “hepat” stands for liver and “itis” stands for inflammation. Again, not everyone infected with the hepatitis A virus will develop symptoms. If you have symptoms, the most common are fever, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, abdominal pain, dark urine, and jaundice, which is when your skin and eyes take on a yellowish tint, as if someone started running a highlighter over you . Symptoms usually begin 14 to 28 days after exposure to the virus. Hepatitis from the hepatitis A virus is not one night’s sleep. Symptoms usually last a week or two or even two months. In some cases, the symptoms lasted as long as nine months.
A major concern with hepatitis A is the possibility of liver failure. This wouldn’t be good, because you need your liver. Your liver is like that person you’ve been throwing into the “friendzone” all those years. You may not notice it until it goes or is gone. Liver failure is a life-threatening condition that may require a liver transplant. Therefore, a hepatitis A outbreak is a serious situation.
So check your strawberries. Make sure they don’t fall into the lots that have been recalled. And be berry, berry careful if you don’t know where you got your strawberries from. You can throw them away as a precaution. After all, it’s better to throw away your fruit than to risk destroying your liver.