An outbreak of Hepatitis A in the local Northern Virginia area has been linked to the popular restaurant Tropical Smoothie, where tainted strawberries, imported from Egypt, were used to make drinks for consumers. According to CBS News, 44 people in Virginia, and 10 people in Maryland, West Virginia, Oregon, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, reported being sick with Hepatitis A. Customers who visited Tropical Smoothie Cafes on August 5, 6, 7, or 8, 2016 are most at risk of contracting the disease.
Hepatitis A is a preventable illness that typically occurs when a person ingests infected food or water. It may be spread by food service industry workers, who are unknowingly sick. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, nausea and vomiting. The urine is often dark, and the eyes may turn yellow with jaundice. Symptoms may not show until 15 to 50 days after exposure.
How can you prevent Hepatitis A?
• Wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet, changing diapers, or before eating or preparing food.
• Disinfect high-traffic spaces and rooms, especially restrooms and kitchens. Clean counters, door handles, and other often-touched objects with antibacterial products, such as Lysol.
• Avoid contact with others if you feel symptomatic. Consider the health of others, and do not go to work, school, or social events if you feel sick.
• Get vaccinated. The Hepatitis A vaccine involves two injections -- one initial vaccine and a "booster shot" 6 months later. The single Hepatitis A vaccine builds immunity in the majority of patients, but the second vaccine ensures immunity for all patients. The vaccine protects for life. If you have not been vaccinated against Hepatitis A, call our office to arrange an appointment and get the vaccine.
Hepatitis A is more likely to be contracted while traveling abroad in foreign countries than by drinking smoothies at your favorite restaurant, but the above tips will help you stay safe from many other diseases.