'Egyptian strawberries' could have caused US' Virginia Hepatitis outbreak

'Egyptian strawberries' could have caused US' Virginia Hepatitis outbreak
Strawberries imported from Egypt have been pulled from store shelves at a smoothie outlet in Virginian after local health officials warned they might be responsible for an outbreak of hepatitis.
2 min read
20 August, 2016
The strawberries at the Tropical Smoothie chain were imported from Egypt [AFP]

A US-based fruit smoothie chain has pulled all Egypt-sourced strawberries from its shelves after ten confirmed cases of Hepatitis A emerged which health officials believe could be linked to the imported fruit.

The outbreak in the US state of Virginia has caused panic among consumers, with the state's local health department have issued a public warning about smoothies from the Tropical Smoothie chain of stores.

"I'm glad I didn't buy any smoothies on August 5, 6, 7 or 8," Tropical Smoothie customer Sarai Israel told 8News.

The dates mentioned are those that the local department of health is warning consumers about, as this was prior to the removal of the Egyptian strawberries.

After removing the strawberries from their stocks, the chain said that this was not an indication of malpractice or sub-standard food hygeine practices.

According to Tropical Smoothie, the removal of the strawberries was simply an extra precaution.

Virginia's health department has confirmed that it is investigating whether other outlets and food suppliers in the state may also have concerns.

The health department said it is looking into whether other restaurants and food suppliers may also have imported strawberries from Egypt.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A develop between 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus, which may occur through direct contact or consumption of contaminated food or drink.

The virus causes inflamation of the liver, which in turn causes jaundice, fever and vomiting.

Unlike Hepatitis B and C, Hepatitis A appears as a new or acutely occurring infection and does not become chronic.