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Sudbury Health Unit: Hep A case possibly from frozen berries now confirmed

Medical officer of health says person had consumed recalled product sold at Sudbury Costco
The Sudbury and District Health unit is reporting there is a laboratory-confirmed case of hepatitis A, possibly stemming from contaminated frozen berries sold at Sudbury Costco. File photo

Four days after cases of hepatitis A were reported in people who had eaten a brand of frozen berries sold at Costco stores in eastern Canada, including Ontario and Quebec, Greater Sudbury has a confirmed case of the disease.

Today, the Sudbury and District Health Unit is reporting a laboratory-confirmed case of hepatitis A in person in the area.

“Our investigation of this reported case reveals that the individual had consumed the recently recalled Costco Nature’s Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend frozen berries,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Sudbury and District Medical Officer of Health. 

“Our investigation has not confirmed the berries were the source of infection. However, it serves as an important reminder to double-check about consumption of the recalled berries and if so, to seek health advice.”

On April 15, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a food recall warning for Costco’s Nature’s Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend frozen berries, sold between Dec. 11, 2015, and April 15, 2016, due to possible hepatitis A contamination.

The health unit is “strongly encouraging” anyone who ate the recalled product within the last 14 days — and who has not previously been fully vaccinated against the disease — to be vaccinated as soon as possible. It is within 14 days of consuming the product that the vaccine will be most effective in preventing disease in anyone exposed, the health unit said.

The Sudbury and District Health Unit is offering free hepatitis A vaccinations to anyone who consumed the product in the last 14 days and who is not fully vaccinated. 

An additional hepatitis A vaccination clinic will be held this Saturday (April 23) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its main office, 1300 Paris St., Sudbury. Health Unit vaccination clinics also run Monday to Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

As well, the health unit is asking food handlers, individuals who have direct patient care (hospital or long-term care home workers, volunteers or students) or who work in a child-care setting should report to the health unit if they consumed the frozen berries within the last 50 days — even if they do not have any symptoms. Employment-specific education will be offered to you.

If you haven’t already, the health unit is reminding people to check for consumption of the recalled product, which includes product purchased from any Costco location in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador between Dec. 11, 2015, and April 15, 2016.

Individuals who have served recalled product to others, including patrons of food premises, family, friends and colleagues, are also encouraged to communicate this potential exposure to the health unit or with these individuals directly.

For more information, please contact the Sudbury and District Health Unit at 705-522-9200 or toll-free at 1-866-522-9200, or speak with your health care provider as soon as possible. 

People who live outside of the Sudbury and District Health Unit’s service area are encouraged to contact their local public health unit.

*In the information below the photo with this story, an earlier version said the connection between a local hepatitis A case and the contaminated berries was "likely." That was inaccurate. The connection is more accurately "possible," because a clear link has not been established.