Outbreak Investigation of Hepatitis A: Fresh Conventional Blackberries (December 2019)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local partners, investigated a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A illnesses in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin linked to fresh, conventional (non-organic) blackberries from the grocery stores Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and Woodman’s Market.

As of February 19, 2020, 20 illnesses of hepatitis A were reported from seven states: Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The most recent illness onset date was on November 15, 2019.

Ill patients reported consuming fresh, conventional blackberries bought in six states including Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Case patients reported buying them from either Fresh Thyme Farmers Market or Woodman’s Market. CDC reports this outbreak investigation is over.

FDA completed its traceback investigation, however a single, common source of fresh, conventional blackberries could not be identified.

Recommendation 

The FDA recommends that consumers should not eat any fresh, conventional blackberries if purchased between September 9 and September 30, 2019, from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in these 11 states: IA, IL, IN, KY, MI, MO, MN, NE, OH, PA, and WI or from Woodman’s Market located in Wisconsin and Illinois. People who purchased the fresh blackberries and then froze those berries for later consumption should not eat these berries. They should be thrown away.

If consumers purchased conventional blackberries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in the 11 states listed above or from Woodman’s Market located in Wisconsin and Illinois between September 9-30, ate those berries in the last two weeks, and have not been vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus (HAV), they should consult with their healthcare professional to determine whether post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is indicated. PEP is recommended for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to HAV in the last two weeks. Those with evidence of previous hepatitis A vaccination or previous hepatitis A infection do not require PEP.

Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may have become ill from eating these blackberries, or if you believe that you have eaten these berries in the last two weeks.

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